County cricket round-up: Alastair Cook’s return powers Essex past Somerset

• Cook hits century in first match since resigning England captaincy
• Yorkshire’s Ben Coad takes 10 wickets in match against Warwickshire

Essex and Alastair Cook are back and mean business. In his first competitive match since resigning the England captaincy in February Cook’s 110 – his 57th first-class century – provided the backbone of Essex’s remarkable chase of 255 against Somerset at Taunton, their first win since returning to the top flight after a six-summer absence. For Somerset, runners-up last year and brimming with youthful, local talent, this represented a disappointing start to a season they are highly fancied for.

Cook’s was an untroubled, unfussy innings in a cruise of a chase, a surprise given 18 wickets had fallen on the second day. All it took, it turned out, was some better batting, because the surface – unlike last season – offered no great help to bowlers, fast or slow. Having brought up his century with a nudged 202nd ball to leg for four, Cook fell before tea, heaving Dean Elgar to midwicket but an authoritative chase was only 39 from completion.

Cook had shared 82 with Nick Browne, who slashed a short, wide ball from Jamie Overton and was caught behind, then 134 with Tom Westley, who finished unbeaten on 86 and hit the winning runs, a trademark flick through midwicket. Westley’s was an innings that will have done his very real England chances no harm at all, even if the man with the best view in the house has a little less influence these days. Less influence perhaps, but pleasingly for England the skill and the hunger appear well intact.

Alastair Cook looks out of a balcony window as his Essex side plays.
Essex’s Alastair Cook enjoyed a fine return to competitive cricket after resigning the England captaincy in February. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Ben Coad, the zippy young seamer with the pun-hungry surname (his team-mates call him Highway), took 10 wickets in the match (he already has 18 this season) to leave Yorkshire on the verge of handing a second consecutive innings defeat to Warwickshire, whose insipid start continued by falling to seven for five in their second innings.

David Willey began the rot, shaping one away from Alex Mellor and into Jonathan Trott to consecutively dismiss them (caught behind and lbw), before Coad had Bell caught at slip and Sam Hain bowled not offering a stroke. Tim Ambrose was then lbw camped back and Rikki Clarke caught on the legside. Eventually after a slight recovery and some rain, the umpires hauled the players off for bad light at 7.15pm with Warwickshire 85 for nine, trailing by 118. Back Yorkshire must go on Monday to finish the job.

Middlesex’s unbeaten run, which stretches back to the final game of 2015, is in severe peril after a superb day’s cricket from Hampshire - who have already recorded one famous victory this season - left the champions scrapping for a draw. The only disappointments for Hampshire were the failures of Michael Carberry (98, caught behind driving) and Rilee Rossouw (last man out, run out for 99 with a runner for company) to convert gutsy innings into three figures.

Rossouw, batting through a hand injury, was in brutal form, pulling sweetly and biffing hard down the ground. . He shared 80 with the nightwatchman Kyle Abbott (56) and 86 with Gareth Berg (43) to set up a first-innings lead of 82. Abbott’s excellent opening spell then accounted for Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins, while Dawid Malan left a straight one from the pacy Brad Wheal. Stevie Eskinazi and Adam Voges steadied the ship before the former slashed at the returning Abbott and was caught behind. Middlesex’s lead is only 29 with six wickets in hand.

Surrey are also in strife, having been tied in knots by Lancashire’s spinners at The Oval. When Rory Burns fell for 91, Surrey were 211 for three but collapsed to 319 all out (even with 57 shared for the ninth wicket) with Stephen Parry and Simon Kerrigan bowling a combined 53.2 overs, taking five for 66. After Surrey had fallen two shy of avoiding the follow-on, Kerrigan snared Burns to leave Surrey 55 for one at the close, still 96 behind.

After a two-day defeat at Northampton Glamorgan almost made it to lunch on day three before Worcestershire recorded an eight-wicket win. Aneurin Donald, a rare bright-spot on a gloomy Glamorgan horizon, made 57 to make Worcestershire – for whom the debutant Josh Tongue took five for 45 – at least bat again. Leicestershire also suffered a second heavy defeat, losing 14 wickets on the third day to go down by an innings and six runs to Gloucestershire, for whom Liam Norwell recorded match figures of 10 for 99. Ned Eckersley was last man out, Norwell’s fifth second- innings wicket, for 85, having earlier made 88.

Only 11.3 overs were possible as Nottinghamshire moved closer to victory at Durham, with Jake Ball dismissing Ryan Pringle and Harry Gurney getting Stuart Poynter, both bowled, to leave Durham 58 ahead with three wickets in hand. In Nottinghamshire’s way stood Cook’s latest England opening partner, Keaton Jennings, unbeaten on 82.

At Hove Sam Northeast, with an unbeaten 173, powered his Kent side to a lead of 426 against Sussex before bad light intervened.


Will Macpherson at the Ageas Bowl

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