Alex Winter at Essex 30-2, 379 behind Gloucestershire
No play here after a sharp shower before the start. More are forecast. Half the sheets are still on. Bonus points may be all there is to play for though. John Bracewell has just marched out to have a word with the umpires and his players are now following on behind to warm up. Positive signs. In fact we're going to try and start at 12.30pm with lunch at 1.30pm.
So my evening last night. Started off tremendously well. The Orange Tree is a fine venue. Plenty of beer, good atmosphere, locals playing a rowdy round of bridge, open fire and a fantastic curry, exactly how a pub curry should be - for there is a difference between curry house curry and pub curry and they got it spot on. I washed it down with a Dark Star Hop Head, thankfully not dark at all but a little hoppy. Cause then Spurs spoiled it and Newcastle made it two British sides knocked out of Europe. Carnage.
Tim Wigmore at Lancashire 87-0 v Worcestershire 334
Lancashire have begun well this morning, on a flat track that isn’t offering much for the bowlers. After waiting until the final game of last season for their first century opening stand, they are on course to record one here. Paul Horton hit David Lucas for two consecutive fours, a pull behind square and a flick through the legside, showing what a classy player he can be.
Returning to the spin question, when Mooen Ali spun Worcestershire to victory here last season with 12-96 the pitch inspectors had a long discussion over imposing an eight-point penalty on Lancashire – even though they had omitted Gary Keedy. There’s no way of answering, but if 34 wickets had fallen to seam, rather than spin, would the pitch inspectors have shown so much interest?
Alex Winter at Essex 30-2, 379 behind Gloucestershire
All eyes to the right (well for me and everyone else in this stand). There be rain on the way...
Paul Edwards at Yorkshire 27-1 v Sussex
Well it could have been November early this morning at Headingley. Skeletal trees, rain rolling like gunsmoke across the ground and cars with their headlights on in Kirkstall Lane. The ground bore a passing resemblane to the Marie Celeste.
Things have improved since then, thank heavens, but we are still to have an early lunch at 12.20 and the umpires will take another look at 1pm. That's as much as we could have been expected.
As to wickets giving enough help to spinners, I'm not sure they ever have been too generous in April, although Monty Panesar may get a few more overs today if the Yorkshire batsmen are more obdurate than they were on Wednesday (and they couldn't be much more supine.) My feeling is that there should certainly be some help for the slow bowlers by the third day of a Championship game and I saw Robert Croft, Simon Kerrigan and even Moeen Ali prosper in the last month or so of last season. Balance is the key, as distinct from today at Headingley, where Ballance could be vital.
Tim Wigmore at Lancashire 142-1 v Worcestershire 334
Chatter has moved onto young players to watch this season. I’m watching one now – Mooen Ali is bowling his offspin. It’s accurate and he gives the ball nice flight, although it’s hard to see him replicating his 12-96 last year anytime soon. Mooen’s batting is his strength – very stylistic and, if his 78 on the first day was any guide, with newfound patience. Aged only 25, he certainly has the potential to play for England.
Jon Culley at Warwickshire 14-0 v Derbyshire
Warwickshire think calling Edgbaston soulless is a bit harsh. People can be sensitive about such things. Once, when I suggested that the County Ground in Derby might not be the most beautiful venue on the planet, I was invited to explain/justify my comments on local radio (it was a slow news day). At seven o'clock in the morning! And I was daft enough to set my alarm and take their call, which still seems a ridiculously obliging thing to have done considering they just wanted listeners to ring in and take a pop. The thing is, my local ground is Trent Bridge, which among provincial Test grounds is peerless. The others have a lot to compete with.
Paul Edwards at Yorkshire 65-3 v Sussex
Before the start of the season much was being made of Yorkshire's seam bowling strength. Rather less attention was being paid to the side's batting frailties, yet it is these which may harm the White Rose's summer.
We've had two examples of sloppiness this afternoon as Yorkshire have stumbled to 76-3, still 184 runs behind Sussex. First Adam Lyth edged Anyon down the leg side to Brown and departed for 25. A strangle in some players' view but it was a delivery at which Lyth had no need to play. Then, three balls later, Gale weakly edged Anyon to Joyce at third slip. Both dismissals were caused by batsmen error. Sussex haven't really bowled as well as they did in the first innings.
George Dobell at Nottinghamshire 278 and 13-2 v Middlesex 353
Poor Michael Lumb. He could, right now, be earning a fortune in the IPL. Instead he is sitting in the pavilion in Nottingham reflecting on a pair. For the second time in the match, he was beaten, half forward, to one that nipped back.
Ed Cowan has gone, too. Stuck in the crease, he was beaten by one that swung sharply from Tim Murtagh and lost his off stump. Toby Roland-Jones has beaten Alex Hales off stump several times and batting looks hard work.
Which all sounds pretty good for Middlesex, doesn’t it? But James Harris is not on the pitch - he has a hamstring strain - and Gareth Berg is described as 80 percent fit.
I have to say I agree with Jon Culley. Edgbaston's new stand is a great improvement and has totally lifted the status of the ground to new levels, so much respect for that. But it still lacks the beauty of, say Trent Bridge or Lords or the grandeur of the Oval. And it IS dragged down by its envrons. Leave the ground at Headingley and there are endless food and drink places to choose from, and other stuff Paul Edwards drooled over yesterday on this blog. It is not worth leaving the ground at Edgbaston unless you plan a very long walk.
What is all this hogwash about the Garden of Eden - by which I mean Edgbaston - not being delightful? I’ll have you know that in Edgbaston Reservoir we have 24 different species of beer can. Four or five of them really quite rare. You're two minutes from a park and nature centre - it's the other side of the road - 2 mins from a great gold course and 2 mins from a tennis centre. Go and explore: you'll love it.