These Sunday starts, they take some getting used to. No sooner have you dragged yourself out of bed than the covers have been hauled off and the umpires are calling Play. Perhaps Sunday starts should have come with a 12 til 7pm arrangement on the first day? But then they can't bowl their overs in time and it would only become 12 til 8.
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Ivo Tennant at Somerset v Yorkshire 0-0
Bright skies, green tinged pitch and a toss to win, as they say. Somerset have put Yorkshire in to bat and, surprisingly, have opted for Craig Overton ahead of his twin brother, Jamie. Fielding first wouldn’t have happened in Phil Frost’s day, but we are supposedly in an era of more lively pitches these days. Last year Marcus Trescothick did not always make the right selection on the occasions he did win the toss; but his own run-scoring will be his chief concern in the first few weeks of the season following his uncharacteristically lean year with the bat in 2013. Is his batting on the wane at the age of 38? We all hope not, because he is such a decent person in addition to having been a wonderful player.
George Dobell at Warwickshire (7-1) v Sussex
Morning from a beautiful morning at Edgbaston. We’ve two very strong teams in action here, with Chris Jordan back in action for Sussex and a Warwickshire team including three men who were part of the England side that won the Ashes at the end of last summer: Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott and Chris Woakes. There is no Boyd Rankin, however, who has been carrying an injury but might be fit to return for the Warwickshire’s next game. Jim Troughton and Ian Westwood are injured while William Porterfield is left out.
Bell, who is captain of Warwickshire for this game, has won the toss and chosen to bat first and both Steve Magoffin and Jordan have already beaten the outside edge of Varun Chopra’s bat on several occasions. Indeed, as I write that, he has edged a good one from Jordan to slip. It wasn’t a particularly glorious innings.
There is no Matt Prior for Sussex, though. He was unable to keep due to on-going trouble with his Achilles last week and is unable to play this week. He is gue to have an injection at some stage, though the recurring nature of the problem - it has bothered him for a couple of years - does raise questions about his long-term prospects of reclaiming the gloves for England. Rory Hamilton-Brown is back in the Sussex side, too, but there is still no Chris Nash, who is recovering from a burst appendix.
Alex Winter at Northamptonshire v Durham 7 for 1
Northants are back in Division One and the press box is jammed packed for their first top flight fixture for 10 years, standing room only here. It’s rather cold too at the back of this old stand but out of the shade it’s lovely and sunny and a smattering of spectators are taking advantage. Several of them in the new, snappily-named University of Northampton Stand incorporating the Briggs and Forester Family Stand. Nick and Gaz are over there – don’t ask me who they are but they’ve got a flag up with the Durham crest.
Northants’ have an injury worry. David Willey. David Willey and Ben Duckett. Two! Two injury worries. David Willey, Ben Duckett, and Rob Keogh. Three! Among their injury worries are such players as David Willey, Ben Duckett, Rob Keogh. And James Middlebrook. Damn! I’ll come in again…
Alex Wakely is also out long term but Azharullah is fit and playing and has struck early. It was a challenge for him to adapt his one-day excellence into the first-class game at the back of last summer and now he’s suddenly bowling at the County Champions, who won the toss and decided to bowl here.
George Dobell at Warwickshire (10-1) v Sussex
Rousing reception for Trott as he walked out to bat here. He was off the mark first ball, too, after defending the ball into the covers and darting a quick single. James Whitaker, the national selector, is among those here to watch him today.