The first County Championship half-century of an Ashes summer was scored, appropriately, by an Australian, pipping another to the mark by moments. Ed Cowan, the man likely to open the batting for Michael Clarke's team in the first Test at Trent Bridge in July, marked his first appearance on that ground for Nottinghamshire by passing 50 in the 20th over against Middlesex, an over ahead of George Bailey, Australia's Twenty20 captain, on his Hampshire debut against Leicestershire at the Ageas Bowl. Bailey fell seven runs short of a debut century.
Jordan parts Tykes
Yorkshire marked their 150th anniversary by sending captain Andrew Gale out for the toss with a 150-year-old coin but scoring 150 runs proved well beyond his team. They were bowled out for 96 as Chris Jordan celebrated his Sussex debut with a Championship-best 6 for 48 at Headingley.
The most significant team selection of the opening day saw Somerset nominate Craig Kieswetter to keep wicket ahead of Jos Buttler, his rival for an England ICC Champions Trophy spot, against Durham at Chester-le-Street.
One to watch
With 61 Championship wickets, Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones enjoyed his most successful summer in 2012, earning a Lions call-up as a result. His first four wickets of 2013 – Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Ed Cowan and Samit Patel – were pretty respectable as well and his final figures of 6 for 63 a career-best.
Hamish Marshall became the first centurion of the season, followed two overs later by his team-mate Dan Housego as Gloucestershire turned the screw against Essex at Chelmsford.