The summer’s most consistent and least popular player, rain, returned to ravage county cricket action on Tuesday when play in all five games was brought to a premature close.
The first of those came at Edgbaston, where Warwickshire’s pursuit of victory against Nottinghamshire was stymied not just by the weather – the forecast for Wednesday is equally bleak – but by obdurate batting.
There had, as Nottinghamshire picked up Warwickshire’s final two first-innings wickets, been brief cause for alarm for England, as Jake Ball – who is in line to make a Test debut against Pakistan at Lord’s with James Anderson suffering from a shoulder injury that looks increasingly likely to sideline him – did not take the field. Notts confirmed, however, that Ball will bowl in the second innings and was simply being rested as a precaution.
In his absence Brett Hutton had Mark Adair caught at fine-leg (a ball after he hooked over that fielder for six) and Boyd Rankin was caught at short-leg trying to hit Dan Christian to Dudley, giving Warwickshire a first-innings lead of 159. Keith Barker dismissed Jake Libby in his second over, caught at slip, before Steven Mullaney and Michael Lumb – who cover drove with typical authority – dug in to share 67, until Lumb fell in identical fashion to the first innings, lbw to Jeetan Patel’s quicker ball, shortly before the heavens opened with Notts still 78 in arrears.
Elsewhere, on a flat Lord’s pitch Nick Gubbins – who increasingly looks a player of rare class – scored a maiden first-class double-century and Stevie Eskinazi scored his first ton, as Middlesex piled on the runs. They were only 94 behind Lancashire’s 513 when the rain arrived. The pair shared 208 before Eskinazi, playing his second Championship match, edged Kyle Jarvis to second slip shortly after bringing up his century with a six. Gubbins recorded his second consecutive century at Lord’s to guide Middlesex to full batting points, driving beautifully through extra cover and playing with patience and panache.
Somerset managed only three wickets as they chased victory against Hampshire, whose experienced batting lineup dug in on a slow pitch to lie 82 behind in their second innings when rain came. The day was bookended by a pair of dogged Hampshire partnerships. First, Will Smith shared 89 with Tom Alsop. Then, after that pair and Liam Dawson fell in 11 overs either side of lunch, Michael Carberry – whose desire is dwindling, his coach Dale Benkenstein admitted – and Sean Ervine put on 52. Hampshire closed on 219 for four.
In Division Two, Leicestershire’s elite performance coach Keith Piper has left by mutual consent due to family issues, the club said, and will not be replaced. Neil Dexter’s second Championship century for the club and some late humpty from Clint McKay carried Leicestershire to 334 against Gloucestershire, for whom Luke Norwell cleaned up the tail to finish with four wickets. In response, Gareth Roderick and Chris Dent shared an unbeaten 69 until the rain came.
Kent, whose all-rounder Matt Coles is unavailable for selection as his extra‑curricular conduct during last week’s Championship match with Glamorgan is investigated, were flayed to all parts by Derbyshire’s Wayne Madsen and Shiv Thakor, who both scored centuries. Derbyshire posted a first innings lead of 195, and Kent were 32 without loss when the rain reared its ugly head. True to form, it is set to return on Wednesday.