Jake Ball, Luke Fletcher share four wickets before late recovery from eighth-wicket pair
Durham 241 for 7 (Lees 58, Bedingham 57) vs Nottinghamshire
Against an opponent without a win in this competition in 27 attempts. Durham might have fancied themselves to get their LV= Insurance County Championship season off to a positive start but they will feel the opening day here was one of wasted opportunities as wickets were lost at key moments, before a fightback of sorts from eighth-wicket pair Bryson Carse and Ben Raine.
Asked to bat first on a typical green-tinged early-season pitch, they recovered well from a stuttering start against a Nottinghamshire seam attack that looked potent even with overseas signing Dane Paterson not yet match fit after a long-term injury.
The returning Scott Borthwick’s second county debut ended in a four-ball duck but Alex Lees and David Bedingham each made half-centuries and Jack Burnham was well placed to match them if not do better. Yet none was able to progress.
“I think after being five for two to be still batting at the end of the day we would take that,” Bedingham said. “On the other hand we were also 144 for three at one stage, so you could look at the day in two ways. But in saying that it is early season and the ball was nipping around a bit so although we might not take the score after being five for two we can be happy and I think that last partnership between Brydon and Ben at the end made it just about our day.
“Having them at eight and nine is great because they can both bat higher and if they can push us towards 300 in the morning we will feel in a good position.”
The swift demise of Borthwick, surprised by a Jake Ball yorker that trapped him leg before, followed that of opener Mike Jones in the same over, the fifth of the innings.
Jones, who also failed to score, edged to third slip, where Haseeb Hameed held the catch at the second attempt, and Borthwick’s dismissal left Durham 5 for 2. Ball’s inclusion was something of a surprise given he had not played any warm-up matches after his involvement with England in India but 2 for 10 from his six-over new-ball spell was ample justification.
Otherwise, it was Durham’s morning until the last over, after Nottinghamshire had successfully lobbied to squeeze in an extra one before lunch. Bedingham, who had taken his opportunities efficiently in a 76-ball fifty, faced a decent ball from Luke Fletcher but seemed momentarily indecisive as he edged to wicketkeeper Tom Moores, ending an 88-run partnership for the third wicket.
Durham needed to graft after lunch, but Lees cashed in on a rare loose over from Ball with three boundaries to complete an 118-ball fifty that looked like a strong platform. Soon afterwards, however, he was wastefully run out as the non-striker, beaten by Joe Clarke’s pin-point throw to the bowler’s end after new partner Burnham had attempted a chancey second run to deep backward square off Lyndon James.
Burnham survived to reach 42 at tea but perished in the first over of the final session, caught behind on the leg side as he flicked at a delivery from Fletcher, after which Ned Eckersley and Stuart Poynter fell in quick succession, the latter a deserved wicket for a tidy display from medium pace allrounder James.
It was left to Carse and Raine to survive 16 overs against the second new ball and they have added 45 so far, dragging back some of Nottinghamshire’s advantage.
“It’s a good cricket wicket compared with what you often see at this time of year and I thought we bowled really well to keep them to this score,” Ball said. “We got wickets at important moments. The one just before lunch made it our session and the run-out of Alex Lees was a big one for us because he was playing really well and looked settled. You could see it gave us a lift and we got two or three more wickets soon afterwards.
“From my point of view, although I got through three sets of hand-warmers it was that cold in the wind, it was good to have the red ball in hand and get into a bit of rhythm. I have not had much cricket lately but I felt in good shape going into the match and it was good to get out there playing.”
Recent Match Report – Essex vs Sussex South Group 2021
Skipper slams 75 from 44 to help make short work of small chase
Sussex 130 for 3 (Wright 75) beat Essex 128 for 8 (Garton 3-31) by seven wickets
The Blast’s all-time leading run-scorer missed the opening two rounds after splitting the webbing in his hand while practising fielding on the eve of the competition. But he made up for lost time by bringing up his fifty in 33 deliveries as Sussex chased down Essex’s below-par 128 for eight with 36 balls to spare.
Wright looked at home right from the start, with boundaries from his second and third deliveries – two of eight fours.
Opening partner Phil Salt earned a life when he bludgeoned a full toss to mid-on, only to earn a reprieve for the umpire to judge the ball to have been above waist-height, much to Simon Harmer’s chagrin. Salt was run out for 13, after putting on 54 with Wright before Travis Head added 60 together with the skipper.
Wright continued to his 26th Blast half-century, going past 8000 T20 career runs, with a pair of straight sixes and another over cow corner. He departed with six still needed but Delray Rawlins clattered the winning runs over long-off soon after.
Wright’s day had started perfectly as he won the toss and stuck the hosts in – although Will Buttleman struck successive sixes in the fourth over. On a used hybrid pitch, scoring proved difficult for Essex with only Buttleman, Michael Pepper and Jimmy Neesham’s strike rates topping 100, for those who reached double figures.
The strain on scoring was exemplified by the last over of the Powerplay, which saw just one run, as Paul Walter struggled to lay a bat on Chris Jordan – the run rate throughout the innings hovering just below seven an over.
To add to the Eagles’ woes, wickets were a regular occurrence. Tom Westley and Buttleman fell in the Powerplay – the former picking out deep midwicket off George Garton and the latter slapping a Tymal Mills slower ball to cover.
Walter was stumped, Ryan ten Doeschate clubbed old pal Ravi Bopara to long off, Pepper – having scored 38 off 25 balls – drilled to extra cover, Harmer miscued to midwicket, Jack Plom skied to mid-off and Neesham was comprehensively bowled.
Garton ended up with 3 for 31, with Mills, Jordan and Bopara all going at under a run-a-ball.
Eng vs Ind Women’s Test
“Maybe in the coming years it might also lead to a World Test Championship [for women]. You never know.”
“I feel this Test match and even the pink-ball Test, which is in Australia in the coming months, it’s just the beginning of having a three-format bilateral series,” Raj, India’s Test and ODI captain, said on the eve of the one-off Test against England in Bristol. “It probably opens up the channel to have another format added in a bilateral series and that will clearly help the overall standard of women’s cricket.
“Also, the players – I mean, you ask any modern-day cricketer, they still want to play the longer format because they eventually know that the format tests the skill of a player.”
The last time India played two or more Tests in a year was in 2014, which was also the last time they appeared in the format. The Bristol Test, which marks their return to red-ball cricket after a break of 2401 days, carries four points for a win under the multi-format system for the tour, which also includes three ODIs and three T20Is.
A draw will fetch the teams two points apiece and one point will be awarded for a no-result. Wins in the white-ball games will be worth two points each. The Ashes, which has been the only occasion that has involved Test matches in women’s cricket since 2014, follows the same grading system.
“It’s good to have the Test match in a series,” Raj said. ‘We [already] had the one-dayers and the T20Is. Maybe in the coming years it might also lead to a World Test Championship [for women]. You never know. This is just the beginning. I hope we continue to have bilateral series where all three formats are there.”
The announcement of both the Test against England and the pink-ball game against Australia, scheduled for September-October, was an unexpected development in Indian women’s cricket. On the international circuit, the ODI World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, to be played in the T20 format, both scheduled for next year, and the 2023 T20 World Cup remain the focal points of India’s long-term preparations. In domestic cricket, no red-ball tournaments for women’s cricketers have been held in India since the 2017-2018 season.
“There were a few sessions that we tried to have in the whites so that the girls don’t get [intimidated] when they walk into the ground tomorrow because for most of them it’s their first time getting into the ground in the whites,” Raj said. “That is one thing [Powar] tried to get into the sessions. There were four-five sessions where we trained together as a team in the whites, so we get a feel of it in the nets sessions and it doesn’t feel alien for the girls when they get onto the ground.
“He also got the seniors to speak to the other players who are less experienced about the format about the last time we played a Test match, so there was a lot of communication with Jhulan talking to the fast bowlers and I’m talking to the batters. So, I think when you have this communication going, it sort of gets the team get collectively prepared for the Test match.”
“In terms of marketing the sport, I think it is great to have a Test match live on television because clearly, a lot of people will follow, now with the pandemic [on] and there’s partial restrictions everywhere [because of lockdowns], so a lot of people will be watching the game,” she said. “As far as the players are concerned, it is equally important [to play well in this Test match]. Seven years back, the scenario was very different for women’s cricket.
“Having said that, that team never really thought whether the match is [covered] live or not; it never really crosses a players mind as long as we get in there and we put forward our best performance. Whether it is covered live or not, that’s [not] the players’ lookout. We are there to get there and give our best standard, and if it’s covered live, nothing like it because that’s how the sport will grow being viable.”
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
Warwickshire close to signing Che Simmons, 17-year-old dubbed ‘new Jofra Archer’
Barbadian fast bowler has UK passport and impressed on trial with 2nd XI
Having made an excellent impression, Simmons is expected to be offered a deal which might well include some type of scholarship in order that he can complete his education in the UK. He currently attends Combermere School, which has a rich history of producing top players. As well has current West Indies Test captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, Wes Hall, Clyde Walcott, Frank Worrall and Chris Jordan also attended the school. So did the singer, Rihanna.
A fast bowler with a beautiful smooth run-up and action, Simmons has represented Barbados Under-15s and came to prominence by claiming all 10 wickets in an innings while playing for the Franklyn Stephenson Academy. He finished with the remarkable figures of 10 for 16 from 5.3 overs. Only two of the runs he conceded came off the bat.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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