County cricket - as it happened!
5.58pm: Marcus Trescothick has just reached yet another half-century, writes Andy Wilson. Glen Chapple has given him a few problems in a good spell from the Statham End, and beaten the outside edge at least twice - although with Trescothick, it's always so difficult to tell whether he's playing at the ball or not - in addition to finding it once when Luke Sutton was unable to take a difficult low catch. Zander de Bruyn is still there too, having contributed 39 to a third wicket stand that has just reached three figures with 114 for two in reply to Lancashire's 292. De Bruyn infuriated Daren Powell, Lancashire's new Kolpak signing who has shown unedifying hints of stroppiness in his early appearances for the county, when he pulled away from one delivery because of an announcement at the tram station. Still no sign of Sajid Mahmood, or for that matter any explanation for his absence.
5.38pm: Thought I'd just pop in before closing time with a quick note from Bridgetown, writes Andy Bull. First match up is Australia v Bangladesh. The Tigers will have to win and win well to go through, and on a Barbados pitch which people in the know are tipping to be quick, that seems a remote chance indeed.
They can take some solace from the news that Mitchell Johnson has a shoulder infection and may not play, but that still leaves Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes. An English fan was telling me yesterday that he had asked Nannes which batsmen, out of all of them, he least likes to bowl to. His answer, bizarrely, was Ravi Bopara, who has made a habit of whacking him to all parts. "I just don't know how to bowl to him" said Nannes. Food for thought for England.
After that comes South Africa v Afghanistan, and as confident as the Afghans are I'm a little worried on their behalf. They have been practising playing short-pitch bowling in the nets but have never faced the likes of Steyn and Morkel before. One of their most senior batsmen, Raees Ahmadzai, has announced that he is retiring after the tournament, timing the announcement to try and inspire his team-mates.
5pm: Christopher Martin-Jenkins is to be , writes Vic Marks. CMJ will be a very good one and I'm sure he'll enjoy the year immensely. He succeeds John Barclay. I should have given him that putt on the 18th last week.
Son RMJ celebrated with a duck down at Hove. Mortality returned after a brilliant April for Robin but Matt Prior has hit a superb century and has had resolute support from Monty Panesar. The TTTs already have three wickets.
Worcestershire have a 127 run first innings - Hoggard left stranded on 0. Shantry finished with five wickets; Jones, who looks like a possible Test bowler, with three.
4.15pm: Steven Mullaney is making the most of his first championship appearance for , writes David Hopps at the Rose Bowl. He is 54 not out at tea and, along with Ally Brown, who by his own standards has been markedly subdued for his 64. Notts are 206-6 at tea, 94 adrift of Hampshire's first-innings total of 300.
Mullaney's debut was the most interesting feature of an otherwise unremarkable session, and he has played well enough to suggest that Notts's coach Mick Newell has pulled off a useful signing. did not want to lose him, but then neither did they want to keep him badly enough.
There was much to attend to when he came to the crease. Notts had lost Samit Patel, who sliced to mid-off, and Chris Read, bowled by Dominic Cork, to slump to 123-6, but Mullaney has played confidently since then. Only Kabir Ali, comfortably the pick of Hampshire's attack, has caused him problems, causing him on several occasions to defend "on the walk."
All this has been watched by an ECB posse of pitch inspectors, supervisors, administrators and suchlike, all of whom have professed themselves very pleased with the behaviour of Hampshire's proposed Test pitch. It has had consistent bounce, decent carry and, if Notts's resistance continues, the match should last long enough to discover whether it will turn in the later stages of the match.
I could pontificate at length about the increased sand content of the Ongar loam used to relay the centre of the Rose Bowl square, but perhaps not.
4pm: Andy Wilson writes: Back on at Old Trafford, after the best part of two hours off for bad light, a very frustrating period for the few spectators in the ground, prompting a half-hearted slow handclap, and a blunt message to the umpires (Mark Benson and Richard Kettleborough) that "they'd be playing in the leagues". It is still very gloomy, and Lancashire will be keen to dismiss Marcus Trescothick before the players troop off again, as seems likely. Sajid Mahmood has not taken the field, suggesting that the "niggle" he picked up when batting yesterday, which was dismissed as nothing serious last night, may be a bit more of a worry than Lancs were letting on.
3.25pm: At the Oval we have two makeshift openers called Batty on each side and at the moment Jonathan must be the happier of the two as the Gloucestershire lead mounts, writes Vic Marks. The TTTs are finally all out at Scarborough. Kent have the upper hand at Canterbury after Denly hit 95. Prior continues to play a lone hand at Hove.
And Jack Shantry has taken four Leicestershire wickets at Grace Road, which is a bit of a surprise since Shantry of Worcestershire bowls at no pace and almost off the wrong foot. He looks like a club bowler. But who cares what he looks like if he takes wickets?
If we took too much notice of the coaching manual or indeed the ECB coaches we might never have witnessed Mike Procter, Andre Nel, Colin Dredge, Paul Adams, Colin Croft (oh, what a relief that would have been), Lasith Malinga, Michael Yardy, JF Steele and Bob Willis taking first class wickets.
1.45pm: We have started at Old Trafford and, look away now Vic, Somerset have already lost a wicket, writes Andy Wilson. Nick Compton was clearly unimpressed to be given out caught behind off Kyle Hogg's second ball of the day. 17-2.
1.35pm: For those of us who live outside the M25, there is some wry amusement to be had at the travails of the London clubs, writes Vic Marks. I recall chatting to Alastair Cook at the end of last season about our domestic structure. To paraphrase him: "Simple", he said. "Too many clubs. We should just get rid of those finishing in the bottom four". In which case we would be bidding farewell to Surrey and Middlesex as things stand. We assumed that Surrey were on the way back, having bowled out Gloucestershire relatively cheaply yesterday. But they are 141-9 at lunch.
Gloucestershire seem to have a first division seam attack, a second division batting line-up. But they must fancy their chances at the Oval now. Middlesex, four defeats out of four so far, are faring a bit better at Hove, where Sussex are 74-3. Matt Prior is at the crease and no doubt eager to remind us all of his batting prowess.
Meanwhile there has been much talk of Duckworth/Lewis over the last couple of days with all the rain in Guyana. My guess is that on Friday Mr Clegg would be very, very grateful to have Messrs Duckworth and Lewis doing the calculations.
1.10pm: Notts are 99-4 at lunch against Hampshire at The Rose Bowl, writes David Hopps. Samit Patel and Ally Brown have changed the feel of the game in the final hour of the morning. This game is finely balanced. If are to prosper, Kabir needs some back-up.
12.25pm: Serendipitously, given the discussion below, we were looking at three handwritten letters from former prime ministers in the press box here yesterday, writes Andy Wilson at Old Trafford. The Reverend Malcolm Lorimer, who combines tending to his flock in Sale with various roles at Lancashire including club chaplain and librarian, collects cricketers' letters – he has about 4,000 of them – although these were addressed to Neville Cardus CBE, formerly of this parish. (Which makes me wonder what his attitude would have been to regular blogging...) Two were from Harold Wilson, typed on Downing Street notepaper with handwritten additions referring to Cardus's comparison of the then prime minister with Herbert Sutcliffe. It seemed the two men were old friends. Malcolm also had the last couple of pages of a wholly handwritten note to Cardus from Ted Heath, which was mostly about classical music. More prosaically, early lunch here although the drizzle has stopped, and might be a chance of some play about 1.30pm.
12.20pm: I've been exchanging emails with Sean Hardaker, who I played a bit of cricket with many moons ago in the Airedale and Wharfedale League in , writes David Hopps. His eldest boy, Oliver Hardaker, seems to be in form. He scored 329 not out in 40 overs in the Cup on Sunday playing for Horsforth CC 3rds at Upper Wharfedale. This seems worthy of a mention on the county blog as it is being hailed as a world record apparently and is awakening media interest as a consequence. As I remember, his Dad would start most innings as if he intended to score 329, but then get out.
Oliver would normally be in the 1sts and he was only playing 3rds because he is still involved in school cricket at Woodhouse Grove until the end of term. Anyone who hits 29 sixes in an innings of 329 not out fully deserves his moment of fame, as does anyone who plays cricket in temperatures of 8C which was pretty much the maximum in Wharfedale on Sunday, but you could argue that a matchwinning 50 for the 1sts later in the season would be just as impressive.
Back at the Rose Bowl, there is little sign of any Notts batsman making 329 on the proposed new Test surface. Hampshire have just taken a fourth wicket this morning. It is the vital wicket of Hashim Amla, whose efforts to dig in until the new ball had lost its potency failed when he fell to Sean Ervine's first ball, a great catch down the legside by the wicketkeeper Nic Pothas. That has left Notts 33-4 in the 15th over.
12pm: Notts have collapsed on the Rose Bowl's proposed new Test surface, writes David Hopps. They have lost three wickets in the first 45 minutes, a sequence that must rank as Hampshire's happiest of the championship season. Kabir Ali, who has been in good form for his new county despite their poor start to the season, has taken the first three wickets, and has 3-7 in his first five overs. A transfer from Worcestershire seems to have reawakened him - a general argument perhaps in favour of a transfer system that county cricket has never been entirely comfortable with.
Hampshire are bottom of the championship, but this is their first home game which gives them hope of improvement on their home turf. Kabir has made excellent use of a pitch that seems to have a bit more pace in it than some Rose Bowl pitches.
Bilal Shafayat got one that bounced and left him; Neil Edwards was caught at point and left reluctantly, admitting to a lot of pad but not the sliver of bat that the umpire perceived; and Mark Wagh's stumps were splayed. The ECB pitch inspectors, Mike Denness and David Hughes, are watching more intently this morning.
Notts have reshuffled their top order this season to try to end the collapses that have undermined their title challenges in the past few seasons, but once again it is down to the middle order, in the shape of Hashim Amla and Samit Patel, to restore some equilibrium.
11.20am: Just spotted two early raised fingers at opposite ends of the country, writes Vic Marks. McGrath lbw at Scarborough, Nash lbw at Hove, where Middlesex are starting their game against Sussex. There is no Finn in the Middlesex side. He can't be resting again so must be unfit.
And just spotted . But what about cricketers, proper cricketers, not those who played an occasional first-class game, moving into politics? We seem to be outstripped by the other nations here.
Jayasuriya and Ranatunga have been elected to parliament recently in Sri Lanka. Imran keeps up the struggle in Pakistan. Navjot Singh Sidhu, Chetan Chauhan and Kirti Azad have all been elected in India. Wes Hall had a distinguished career in Barbados.
But here? Well, I know Ted Dexter stood against Jim Callaghan in the 60s and predictably lost before joining the England tour. CB Fry failed to be elected for the Liberals.
10.55am: There may be some nerves in the Durham UCCE dressing room, now that the teams for their three-day fixture against the local county side have been announced, writes Andy Wilson at Old Trafford. Durham have included some chap called Harmison for his first game of the season - the lowest profile way he could start the countdown to an international return ahead of the winter's Ashes tour?
Jokes aside, the injury that has kept the enigmatic Ashington Express in the sidings so far this spring sounds like a thoroughly unpleasant business: nerve damage in his back, apparently, which is why there has been so much uncertainty over when he would play again. Another of Durham's England seamers, Graham Onions, is still awaiting final diagnosis of the back problem that led to his early return from the Bangladesh tour.
We'll try to keep you updated with Harmison's progress over the next couple of days, but he'll have to wait awhile as Will Smith, who is captaining a surprisingly strong Durham side, has won the toss and chosen to bat. There won't be many updates for a while from Old Trafford where light drizzle has been falling for most of the morning. Start delayed.
10am: Morning all. Before the action gets under way there's just time to read Mike Selvey's , where England last night advanced to the World Twenty20 Super Eight stage. Just.
And after a busy day's blogging yesterday Andy Wilson and David Hopps penned these reports from and , while Frank Keating's includes some Wisden factoids.