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Wiese turns on the power as Stone drops another hint of his potential



Warwickshire 299 (Bell 70, Ambrose 81, Wiese 4-50) and 87 for 3 drew with Sussex 374 (Wiese 106, Brown 91, Stone 8-80)

It is, perhaps, a sign of the changing times that the first Championship century of the season should have been made in a single session.

David Wiese, a Kolpak registration who had endured a modest time at Sussex in 2017, thrashed a century before lunch to help his team to four batting bonus points and a secure draw against Warwickshire. It completed a fine all-round display from a man who had earlier taken 4 for 56 in Warwickshire’s first innings; also a better haul than he had managed in the previous season.

In partnership with the more measured Ben Brown, Wiese added 155 for Sussex’s eighth wicket, breaking the record (for Sussex against Warwickshire) of 152 set by HL Wilson and GA Stannard at Hove in 1920.

It also gave Sussex, who took a first-innings lead of 75, brief hopes of putting Warwickshire in trouble in the final session-and-a-half of the match. And, after Will Rhodes was bowled by a beauty from Ollie Robinson that pitched on middle and took the top of off, Ian Bell was lured into a drive and feathered an edge before Jonathan Trott shuffled in front of a straight one. At 55 for 3, Sussex fancied their chances.

But on a pitch that had dried out to become slow and true, that equation was never likely to work out for them. Dominic Sibley (89 balls) and Adam Hose (57 balls) stood firm and, in truth, the poor weather that robbed us of about five sessions defined this encounter. Perhaps, had Tim Ambrose been held at slip on 5 in the first innings, things might have been different.

As it was, Wiese thumped the 10th first-class century of his career in just 91 deliveries. Joining his captain after Robinson had flashed at one angled across him, Wiese immediately went on the attack, striking 14 fours and three sixes in his century. Two of those sixes, one over long-on and another, hit ferociously hard over long-off, came from successive deliveries from the medium-paced Will Rhodes, with the other, over mid-on, coming off Jeetan Patel. Using Patel’s pace – the off-spinner bowled surprisingly quickly at times – Wiese cut nicely and provided a reminder of his quality after that disappointing season in 2017.

“That meant a lot to me,” he said afterwards. “Last year didn’t really go to plan for me. There’s a new coach and I wanted to set a high benchmark. I was quite emotional when a reached my hundred.”

At the other end, Brown provided sensible support. Helping his side from 88 for 5 at one stage, he showed all the calm and determination that has seen him appointed captain. He looked certain to reach the 15th century of his first-class career before, perhaps trying to set up a chase, he flashed at one outside off to become the sixth victim of the innings for Ambrose behind the stumps. Only two keepers, Keith Piper and ‘Tiger’ Smith, have taken more for the club in a first-class innings.

The bowler who continued to pose the biggest threat was Olly Stone. He eventually finished with 8 for 80 – easily a career best – and followed his eye-catching performance of the previous day with another display of sustained pace bowling. There were moments, particularly when he was attempting to bounce out poor Stuart Whittingham, when he looked quite a genuinely intimidating fast bowler. He is not the finished product – Sussex felt his pace varied sharply depending on how well he completed his action – but he has something special that could be an asset far beyond Warwickshire.

“I’m extremely impressed,” his new captain, Patel, said afterwards. “We all knew he could bowl fast, but to bowl consistently throughout the whole innings at that pace suggests he is going to go places. He asked tough questions of good batsmen on a good wicket. He provided us with impact and excitement.

“He’s a really big asset for our club. He’s someone we’re going to treasure. He needs to learn to go through the gears and not bowl 100% all the time, because he’s going to break at some stage, but if he can do that, he’s going to become a very good bowler.”

The Sussex bowler who stood out in both innings was Ishant Sharma. Bowling at a decent pace – though notably slower than Stone – and maintaining such a tight line and length that leaving him was unwise, he demonstrated his experience and quality in harnessing the conditions beautifully. It frustrates some in English cricket – not least the national coach, Trevor Bayliss – that overseas players are provided such experiences ahead of international tours, but there was plenty to learn – for both batsmen and bowlers – from the way he attacked the stumps. He could prove quite a threat to England later in the summer.

But despite his excellence, Stone’s return, Ambrose’s haul and Wiese’s all-round contribution, the men of the match were probably the groundstaff. Despite the appalling weather coming into this season – the Birmingham League season has been pushed back a week for the first time in living memory – they were able to produce a surface that reaped the two highest team scores and the only century of the round of games. They also produced a pitch which gave a young fast bowler the chance to shine. We criticise them when they struggle; it’s only right we praise them when, in desperately taxing conditions, they perform so admirably.

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Surrey dominate as green Trent Bridge pitch backfires



Surrey 223 for 1 (Burns 97*, Stoneman 93) lead Nottinghamshire 210 (Morkel 4-60) by 13 runs

Your front lawn may be the colour of straw but the well-watered cricket fields of England remain a luxuriant green, even down to the pitch for the clash of first and second in the Championship.

It was perhaps not what you would expect to see in the third week of July in a summer as scorching as this one but from Nottinghamshire’s standpoint there was logic behind their instructions to the groundsman. No team had accrued more bowling points in the first eight matches of the season and with Stuart Broad and Jake Ball available it was clear where they considered their best chance of winning lay.

There were two or three flies in the ointment, however; bluebottle-sized ones, in fact. First of all, Steve Birks’s verdant strip is as close to the boundary on the Bridgford Road side of the ground as any of Trent Bridge’s Championship pitches, so close that a judiciously placed nudge brings four.

Second, this Surrey side contains the two most prolific batsmen in the top division so far in Rory Burns and Ollie Pope.

And third, with the kind of early cloud cover that has not been seen for several weeks, there was never much likelihood that Surrey would not bowl first, which meant that a Nottinghamshire batting line-up short on experience would be exposed to Jade Dernbach, Sam Curran, Morne Morkel and Rikki Clarke in the most testing atmospheric conditions, while Broad, back in action after recovering from a sore ankle, could only preen his new haircut in the dressing room. As calculated risks go, this one seemed to have a decent chance of backfiring spectacularly.

And so it did. Steven Mullaney, the Nottinghamshire captain, was out to the second ball of the day, edging Dernbach into the wicketkeeper’s gloves, and even a solitary batting point would have eluded his side but for an unlikely partnership for the 10th wicket that saw Jake Ball smash Morkel over cover for six and Harry Gurney, a number eleven in cricket’s best traditions, carve out an inventive unbeaten 29, the second biggest score of his career.

Surrey had 42 overs to negotiate themselves but by the time they began the clouds were clearing and the menace the Surrey quartet had been able to generate eluded Broad and company. The excellent Burns, now past 850 runs for the season, needs three more for a third century. Mark Stoneman, at last looking more like the player who scored almost 1,500 runs last summer, emerged from his troubles with a fine 86, taking him past 10,000 in his career. Unless something very different happens on day two, Surrey can already anticipate a handsome lead.

The first five Nottinghamshire wickets fell before lunch, the other five before tea as the ball jagged around. At times it was a struggle even to lay bat on ball, let alone take advantage of the short route to the fence. Of the first six wickets, three were caught at gully, one at slip and one by the wicketkeeper; the other was to an inswinger from Curran that trapped Samit Patel on the back foot.

Surrey’s catching, for the most part, was outstanding. Rikki Clarke, apart from bowling superbly, took one over his head at slip that required an exceptional leap even for a man of his 6ft 4ins; Ryan Patel, on briefly as substitute fielder at gully with Pope needing attention after catching Will Fraine a couple of balls earlier, held a blinder, diving to his right, to dismiss Jake Libby, as Morkel claimed two of his four wickets in three deliveries. Fraine, the former Durham MCCU batsman, acquitted himself pretty well in the circumstances, thrown in for his Championship debut with Chris Nash still sidelined and Ross Taylor’s stint here finished.

Some 22 points separated these sides at the start of play. Right now the gap feels wider than that and Surrey might well be about to put themselves out of reach.

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Sussex plot haphazard route to promotion-chasing victory



Sussex 327 (Wells 71, Hogan 4-39, Lawlor 3-59) vs Glamorgan

Sussex, attempting to boost their promotion ambitions with a third straight win against bottom of the table Glamorgan, needed a spirited last wicket partnership between Jofra Archer and Danny Briggs to gain the upper hand on the opening day of their day-night Specsavers County Championship Division Two fixture at Hove.

Sussex had the better of the opening session but the Glamorgan bowlers proved tenacious and took five wickets in a 20-over spell, assisted by a pink ball that swung after lunch. Sussex, however, have a Manx cat’s tail and the partnership of 61 between Archer (19) and Briggs (46) saw them to a third batting point for passing 300.

Openers Luke Wells and Phil Salt built a decent foundation to the innings, with an opening stand of 73. Salt was in particularly impressive form, striking eight fours in his 52-ball 48 before he was dismissed by a fine delivery from Michael Hogan, which straightened and lifted to have him caught behind in the 19th over.

Sussex were still well set at 114 for 1 at lunch. But they lost Tom Haines to the first delivery after the interval and the Glamorgan bowlers remained on top for the rest of the session. Haines, playing his first championship game since scoring a century on debut against Durham at Arundel last month, came into the side for the rested Luke Wright. But, attempting to work the ball to leg, he edged Lukas Carey to Nick Selman at second slip.

Wells, who had been more sedate than his opening partner, leg-glanced Michael Hogan to reach his fifty from 100 deliveries. But Sussex lost third wicket at 139 when the in-form Harry Finch, driving without any foot movement, was caught behind off Hogan. Finch’s solitary run occupied 32 balls. And one run later Wells hooked Hogan to long-leg for 71 from 142 balls.

Michael Burgess was dropped first ball at third slip but Glamorgan were not made to pay for their aberration. The batsman was caught behind having a swing at a wide delivery from Jeremy Lawlor for 13 – the first of three wickets for Lawlor as he acieved a career-best. And it became 171 for 6 when David Wiese swung wildly to give the busy keeper Chris Cooke another catch.

Ben Brown and Chris Jordan revived the faltering innings with a seventh wicket stand of 83 in 24 overs. Both batsmen failed to reach deserved half-centuries. Brown (49) was caught behind attempting to cut a ball that was too pitched up for the stroke, and in the next over Jordan (46) was bowled by Hogan.

Sussex were 254 for 8 and Glamorgan were on top once more, even more so when Ollie Robinson was caught at second slip at 266 in the first over with the new ball.

But in Briggs Sussex have a first-class century maker batting at No 11 and he and Archer hit merrily under the floodlights until Briggs fell in the last over of the day.

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Clark’s historic hat-trick just a detail in hectic Roses opener



Yorkshire 192 (Lyth 70, Clark 5-58) lead109 (Davies 51, Coad 3-28) by 83 runs

It is doubtful if many of those attending the 272nd first-class Roses match arrived at Emirates Old Trafford talking of the contribution Jordan Clark might make to the match. It is unlikely if by mid-afternoon anyone was discussing anything else.

Yet by the end of the day even Clark’s hat-trick and his career-best figures were becoming vague memories of a mad Sunday on which both sides had been bowled out, supporters of each team had called for everyone to resign and Lancashire’s captain, Liam Livingstone, had broken his thumb. Yorkshire ended the day comfortably in the ascendant, as they so often do in Roses matches, but the means of their ascent made the Hinterstoisser traverse look facile.

For on a day which began in the thick-furred gloom of a Mancunian morning yet ended in the crystal sunlight of this treasured summer Clark became only the second Lancashire bowler to take a hat-trick in this fixture since the County Championship was properly constituted in 1890. And when he bowled Ben Coad for 15 to end Yorkshire’s innings for what seemed a plainly inadequate 192, Clark had taken 5 for 58, his finest figures for Lancashire.

The quality of Clark’s hat-trick victims was even more bewitching than the feat itself. Those who had hoped to see Joe Root make runs had to be content with five fluent boundaries before the England captain pushed half forward to Clark and was leg before. Enter Kane Williamson, who was caught helplessly on the crease by Clark’s first delivery to him. Exit Williamson and enter Jonny Bairstow, whose nervous prod edged a catch to Jos Buttler at third slip. Yorkshire 59 for 4.

Having dismissed the batsmen ranked second, third and 16th in the world, Clark indulged in an aeroplane impersonation and sprinted towards The Point, caught in the exultation of the moment. He was followed by his team-mates and the game was reduced to a Benny Hill sketch. The black comedy awaited us.

In the pavilion most of the former players attending their Lancashire reunion watched these events happily and one hopes they showed Clark’s celebrations appropriate indulgence. After all, none of them could talk about their hat-tricks in Roses matches. The only man to share Clark’s honour was Ken Higgs, who passed away in 2016, although one could argue that playing for Lancashire and taking a Roses hat trick are two of the few things the pair have in common.

Clark looks like an athlete whereas Higgs, as his obituary in Wisden obituary pointed out, had “an arse which crossed two postcodes”. Clark has a straight run-up whereas Higgs had a curving approach and rumbled to the wicket like an irate landlord in hot pursuit of a chiseler. Clark’s diet is strictly controlled and probably owes much to energy supplements and isotonic refuelling. Higgs more or less lived on fish and chips.

But both men know, or knew, how to compel the shot and move the ball late, albeit that Higgs’s virtues earned him 1536 first-class wickets whereas Clark has so far picked up 75. And neither man had to be born in Lancashire in order to pledge their loyalty. Clark is a Cumbrian; Higgs was born in Staffordshire. They also serve who hail from Whitehaven or Kidsgrove.

So great was Clark’s apparent dominance of this day – he also ran out Tim Bresnan for nought when he got a hand to a fierce straight-drive by Adam Lyth – that it was sometimes difficult to understand that other cricketers were playing well too. Old Trafford may not be Lyth’s favourite ground; indeed, expressing such an opinion may be something of a heresy in Yorkshire. But it is one on which he has scored a lot of runs and the opener’s fluent 70 was vital in ensuring his side posted what became an eminently defendable total. When Bresnan was out, Yorkshire were 86 for 6 but Lyth helped Steve Patterson put on 45 before both fell to slip catches by Keaton Jennings, Lyth being James Anderson’s only victim.

But what had appeared to be a bottomless Harrod’s hamper of a day for Lancashire rapidly became a soggy packed lunch. The most serious long-term blow was struck when Liam Livingstone fractured his left thumb when attempting to take a slip catch off Lyth. He is likely to be out of action for some time.

Perhaps in solidarity with their captain, Lancashire’s batsmen then inflicted some blows on themselves and they should be fatal for their chances in this game. Yorkshire’s four seamers bowled superbly, no one better than Ben Coad, who took three wickets in an over as the home side lost four wickets for no runs in eight balls.

By then, though, Haseeb Hameed had been dismissed for the fourth successive innings when playing no shot, a dismissal followed two balls later by Dane Vilas’s departure, leg before on the back leg to Patterson. Alex Davies made 51 and put on 46 for the first wicket with Keaton Jennings, who was brilliantly caught one handed by Root at short midwicket off Bresnan. Jennings was blameless but many other Lancashire batsmen were deeply culpable. God knows what the former players thought of it but one doubts it harmed bar takings.

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