After a four-month delay for cricket this summer, the newly formed Bob Willis Trophy has arrived with a bang.
In place of regular County Championship action, four-day cricket got back underway this week with counties, split into respective South, Central, and North groups playing behind closed doors matches.
Here’s how things went.
In nine games, there was only one drawn match, between Warwickshire and Northamptonshire in the central group with final day centuries from Northants batsmen Luke Proctor and Adam Rossington the pick of the performances.
Worcestershire are the early Central Group leaders after picking up 22 points from their win over Gloucestershire at Bristol. Brett D’Oliveira’s first innings 91 proving the pivotal knock, backed up by wickets from Joe Leach and Charlie Morris.
Somerset somewhat steamrolled Glamorgan in their 289 run victory. The Overton brothers did the bulk of the damage as they took 14 of the 20 Glamorgan wickets to fall in the match with Jamie taking 5-48 in the Glamorgan second innings for match figures of 7-64. Glamorgan captain Chris Cooke was one of the very few positives for the Welsh county with his 82.
Sussex wrapped up their first match with a day to spare as they beat Hampshire by 94 runs. England hopeful Ollie Robinson was the star of the show as his pace wreaked havoc amongst the Hampshire batting lineup, the Sussex bowler finishing with eight wickets in the match.
Middlesex are top of the South Group on 22 points after the first round of fixtures, despite leaving it late to beat Surrey by 190 runs at The Oval. The hosts’ Surrey looked to be holding on for a draw at 119-5, however, they lost their last five wickets for just four runs in the space of 44 balls, with nobody in their bottom five reaching double figures. A sublime first innings 192 from Middlesex’s Nick Gubbins set his side up for the win.
Essex sit second on 21 points, winning their nail-biting affair with Kent by two wickets. Kent batsman Heino Kuhn made 140 in the first innings, however, it was Sir Alastair Cook’s 66 on the final day which helped see his side over the line.
Leicestershire scored at almost 10 an over for the final two hours of their match with Lancashire to get home with just eight balls left in the day. Experienced batsman Steven Croft’s unbeaten 52 held up the Foxes earlier in the day, but Lancs were dismissed for 236, leaving Leicestershire a T20-style victory target of 150 in 17 overs. It was Foxes’ captain Colin Ackermann who fired his side to victory with a showstopping 73 off just 41 balls. Ackermann’s 94 in the Leicester first innings was also a big part of the win.
Derbyshire moved just a point behind Leicestershire in second after recording their biggest ever run chase to beat Nottinghamshire. 24-year-old Fynn Hudson-Prentice finished the day on 91 not out, as Derby ended the day on 365-7 to win by three wickets after captain Billy Godleman’s earlier 86. Derby won the game in the lastest possible fashion with the winning runs coming from the final ball of the game.
Yorkshire survived an early rain delay to complete their final day 19-point victory over Durham, winning by six wickets. Needing just 68 to win, it took only 10.4 overs to reach the total for the loss of only Dawid Malan. Harry Brook’s 66 not out, including four sixes, saw the White Rose county home.
The next round of fixtures begins on Saturday with Essex vs Surrey at Chelmsford perhaps the pick of the matches.