County Championship round-up: Bopara to get early look at Proteas


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The Independent Online

Gloucestershire have agreed to allow Ravi Bopara, who was named yesterday in England's squads for the one-day series against South Africa and the World Twenty20, to make a guest appearance in their 50-over match against the South Africans at Bristol today.

The Essex player has played only once for his county since withdrawing from the second Test squad three weeks ago, for personal reasons, and England are keen that Bopara has some match practice before Friday's opening ODI at Cardiff.

In yesterday's action, Neil Dexter, the former Middlesex captain, scored a century in a first-class match for the first time since April last year to ensure that Warwickshire will need to work hard for a first-innings lead in a match that could put the race for the County Championship in their control.

Dexter suffered tragedy during the winter with the sudden death of his older brother, Keith, and has struggled for form. He stepped down from the captaincy in April and lost his place in the side mid-season. It was his 28th birthday at Edgbaston yesterday and the 101 he made before he was lbw to Boyd Rankin came as a welcome gift.

"I've been through a tough year on and off the field and I did feel emotional," he said. "It still feels a little bit raw and to go out score runs is the best thing I can do to make my brother proud of me."

Dexter's ton bolstered a Middlesex total of 267. Warwickshire were 21 without loss when rain arrived.

Marcus Trescothick needed 11 more runs to complete his 50th first-class century – and his first since last July – when rain curtailed Somerset's progress against second-placed Sussex at Taunton. The former England opener looked to be making a timely return to form ahead of Twenty20 finals day on Saturday as Somerset reached 175 for 3.

Durham's revival continued at Chester-le-Street. Seamer Chris Rushworth took a career-best five for 44 as Worcestershire were bowled out for 120. Graham Onions took 3 for 27 to overtake Nottinghamshire's Andre Adams as the First Division's leading wicket-taker. Ben Stokes hit 78 but Durham slipped to 181 for 8 in reply.