County Championship round-up: Maddy and Clarke centuries put champions on back foot

 

The clatter of falling wickets was silenced at Liverpool yesterday as 2011 County Championship runners-up Warwickshire took the upper hand against title-holders Lancashire during a magnificent eighth-wicket partnership between Darren Maddy and Rikki Clarke.

Warwickshire were still 19 short of avoiding the follow-on when they came together at 81 for 7 after Chris Wright and Tim Ambrose had fallen to left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan in the first seven overs of the day. By the time they were parted, 54 and a half overs later, they had added 224.

Maddy's 112 was his first century in a first-class game since August 2008 and no batsman could be more deserving, in terms of pain suffered in the interim at any rate. Now close to his 38th birthday, the former Leicestershire all-rounder missed the whole of the 2009 season after damaging knee ligaments, suffered a nasty facial injury in the nets ahead of the 2010 campaign and missed a chunk of last season with a broken finger.

If Maddy enjoyed himself, so too did Clarke, for whom the Aigburth ground has been lucky. He equalled an outfield record when he held seven catches against Lancashire there last year, and hit three sixes off Kerrigan yesterday before Kyle Hogg bowled him for 140.

All out for 329, Warwickshire took a lead of 79, then reduced Lancashire to 43 for 4, left-armer Keith Barker taking three wickets.

There were runs too at Trent Bridge, where Somerset scored heavily between the showers even with Marcus Trescothick effectively out of the match with a recurrence of an old ankle injury.

Nottinghamshire's attack, without Andre Adams, were thoroughly dominated by Arul Suppiah and Nick Compton in a stand of 214 for the second wicket.

The departure of Suppiah for 124 – a 500th first-class career victim for Paul Franks – merely ushered in James Hildreth to build a partnership worth 217 when Somerset declared on 445 for 2, with a lead of 283.

Compton completed his second double-century of a season in which he already has 685 runs. Having started so early, he has a chance to become the first player since Graeme Hick in 1988 to reach 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May.

It was more like business as usual – in the context of the season so far – at The Oval, where 19 wickets fell in the day. Stewart Meaker took 6 for 39 as Worcestershire were all out for 119 in reply to Surrey's 140. The home side then lost their first six second-innings wickets for 103, closing with a lead of 152.

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