County cricket - as it happened!
Preamble: It may be a Test Match Thursday – and a particularly attractive one, as well, marking the start of such an intriguing series – but there is also a fascinating full round of Championship fixtures which demand the revival of the county blog, writes Andy Wilson. Indeed, Paul Weaver is taking a break from the Formula One circuit to bring us live coverage of the big match between Somerset and the title favourites Nottinghamshire down in Taunton.
Elsewhere in the First Division, the acting Hampshire captain, Dominic Cork, will relish the prospect of putting the boot into third-placed Lancashire at the Rose Bowl after their demoralising Twenty20 quarter final defeat at Essex. I've just spoken to the Manchester Evening News correspondent down in Southampton who reports that Glen Chapple, who has recovered from the back strain he suffered at Chelmsford, has won the toss and chosen to bat, and that Tom Smith is opening with Paul Horton. Shivnarine Chanderpaul makes his second appearance, and Gareth Cross is a surprise choice to replace Stephen Moore, who is facing a lengthy absence after suffering a serious shoulder injury during the Essex game.
Hampshire need the points in the battle to avoid relegation, and Essex will look to dump Kent into more trouble in the other First Division game at Canterbury.
There's a full programme in the Second Division and the place we'd all like to be from tomorrow is Cheltenham. Gloucestershire may be the exception, given a surprisingly poor record of 12 defeats in their last 20 matches at the famous festival ground, where they have only won once since 1998. It should be a cracker against Glamorgan with both teams snapping at Sussex's heels in the battle for promotion.
There's also a London derby at Lord's, and you may also want to comment on the details of the Deloittes report that have leaked out – although to be honest other than the figures, there's nothing in it that will cause any great surprise.
12.44pm: All the pre-match vibes were going against championship leaders Nottinghamshire at Taunton this morning, writes Paul Weaver. Already without England players Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, they were then deprived of another England bowler, Ryan Sidebottom. Sidebottom withdrew just before the start of the match against Somerset after suffering a knee injury in the warm-up. Whether he suffered his injury through playing football or through bowling is unclear at the moment. The counties are very sensitive about pre-match football games. The players love them but they have resulted in injuries such as these before.
To make matters even worse for Notts they then lost the toss on a pitch which they suspected had been prepared more for the spinning skills of Somerset's Murali Kartik rather than their own battery of seam and swing bowlers.
Having said that, the ball has done a lot. Marcus Treschothick, moving across his stumps, was bowled leg stump first ball by Darren Pattinson, Nick Compton was caught at second slip off the same bowler, before Arul Suppiah departed for 30 to make it 77-3 in the 21st over.
1.08pm: Greetings from Trent Bridge where the much derided Review System has had a good morning in the Test match, writes Vic Marks. Forward goes Trott to a leg-break; up goes Kaneria for lbw and the finger of Umpire Silva. Without hesitation Trott asks for a review and within seconds the decision was changed. That's how it's supposed to work.
Strauss batted rather well for most of the morning session, which meant that Kamran Akmal was in some distress since he dropped him - a sitter - on 15. Dropping a catch is the worse feeling in cricket and it's impossible not to count the cost. From my own ledger I remember dropping a catch from Tony Greig in the Parks from the first delivery bowled by Rod Eddington, who went on to be the chief executive of British Airways. Greig scored a century and wickets became elusive for Eddington; there were no upgrades for me.
I think I also dropped Trevor Jesty off Botham when he was on a hat-trick and I think Jesty went on to score a double century for Hampshire at Bournemouth. Other costly drops spring to mind: Fraser dropping Healy at Brisbane, Thorpe dropping Elliott at Headingley in Mike Smith's first and only Test.
And of course there was Brian Lara, dropped behind the stumps at Edgbaston in 1994 when he was on 16. "I bet you he goes on to get a hundred now," said Durham's wicketkeeper Chris Scott dolefully. Wishful thinking. Lara finished on 501 not out.
1.28pm: A brief trot through the lunch scores, writes Andy Wilson after a tough morning watching the Test. Surrey 80 for four against Middlesex, Ramprakash still there on 21, no double-barrelled dream as Roland-Jones has taken one wicket, but not that of Hamilton-Brown. Worcestershire 55 for one off 32 overs against Northants – sounds like an attritional morning at New Road. Leicestershire 98 for three against the Second Division leaders, Sussex, Andrew McDonald 18 not out on his return from Australia. Lancs 65 for three at the Rose Bowl – one wicket each for Balcombe, Tomlinson and Ervine. Chanderpaul still there. Kent 99 for two against Essex at Canterbury, Denly has batted throughout the morning for 39, Key failed on return from injury.
3.37pm: Notts broke through again just after lunch here at Taunton, writes Paul Weaver, when Pattinson took his third wicket of the innings, dismissing Zander De Bruyn lbw for 44 to leave Somerset 126 for four. The sun is out now in the afternoon session but there is still something in it for the bowlers.
But Jos Buttler and James Hildreth have now turned that round. The eye-catching Buttler has just moved to his fifty from 61 balls, with nine fours and a six, guiding Paul Franks down to third man for four. With solid support from Hildreth, who is 83 not out, he has helped give Somerset the upper hand here.
Flags are at half-mast here in memory of another Somerset batsman, Eric Hill, who died on Tuesday at the age of 87. Those who never saw him play had the chance to meet the sometimes curmudgeonly but ultimately very helpful Hill in the press box here for many years.
By the way, I have just confirmed that Sidebottom's injury, which he suffered just before the match and resulted in him pulling out, was sustained playing football. Why do cricketers do it? Ok, they like their football and other training and warm-ups can be pretty boring but in that case why are they allowed to play in the wake of so many injuries. Absolutely barmy.
I had an accident of my own, of sorts, this morning. Having removed my laptop from its case this morning to listen to the news (why do fewer hotels have radio in the room now, just banal TV?) I left it there when I came down to the ground this morning. On my return before play I found the room's lock had broken and after four members of the hotel staff failed to get in they had to call a locksmith. This, in fact, is my first on-line transmission.
Earlier news was brought to you by other, more old-fashioned methods.
Such a disappointment. After the comments by our ultra-sensitive prime minister in India I was expecting the England-Pakistan Test series to be called off by tea-time allowing county cricket to take centre stage. Many years ago – I don't know when but he's been dead for yonks – George Orwell said: "My whole life, every white man's life in the east, was one long struggle not to be laughed at." Little has changed.
5.17pm: Somerset had really taken control here against Notts, before the leaders hit back with two quick wickets, writes Paul Weaver at Taunton. The pitch is green but it's now as flat as anything you see down here. Hildreth and Buttler took their stand to 210 in 46 overs before Buttler was bowled going down the wicket to Samit Patel for 88.
Notts took the new ball at 347 for five and with the first ball Hildreth pulled Pattinson to square leg. He had scored 142. It was a silly way to go, with his job to see off the new ball, but it was still a fine innings.
Every season, it seems, people say this will be Hildreth's year. They said it last year when he scored an unbeaten 303, but he still failed to get his 1000 runs.
This season, though, he is playing better and he really thwacks his reverse sweep more than ever. He is averaging 60.
Pattinson has now taken four wickets. This guy looks good enough to play for England.
6.14pm: A last run through of first-day developments for those who can't be bothered trawling down below, writes Andy Wilson. Middlesex deserve top billing for skittling Surrey for 167 at Lord's, with Tim Murtagh taking five wickets against his old county, and Pedro Collins claiming four including Mark Ramprakash. Scott Newman, another former Surrey
man, then shared an opening stand of 82 with John Simpson.
Elsewhere in the Second Division the leaders Sussex unveiled a new name, Lewis Hatchett, a 20-year-old left-arm seamer who took five for 47 at Grace Road as Leicestershire struggled to 204. Sussex are 118 for three in reply, with Matthew Hoggard taking two of the wickets. Attritional stuff at New Road, where Worcestershire have crawled to 287, with Elton Chigumbura taking three wickets for Northants. The reply has just begun.
In the First Division it's been a good day for Kent, who have reached 360 for six against Essex in Canterbury with a century for Martin van Jaarsveld and Geraint Jones falling just one run short.
Shiv Chanderpaul has held Lancashire together at the Rose Bowl with 118 out of 258 for eight against Hampshire.