County Championship round-up: Steve Magoffin on the right lines
Sunday 14 April 2013
Bowler of the day Steve Magoffin, the 33-year-old Australian seamer, feared his career was over when Western Australia dropped him from their roster two years ago. Rescued by Queensland, he accepted an offer to return to county cricket with Sussex last season, took 7 for 34 on debut against Lancashire and went on to claim 57 Championship wickets. Now he has helped to burst Yorkshire's early optimism by completing a five-wicket haul at Headingley to clinch an innings victory for Sussex. Magoffin wrapped it up with the wicket of Gary Ballance, the last line of some limp resistance by Yorkshire, whose first innings of 96 was labelled "unacceptable" by coach Jason Gillespie. It is their first Championship defeat for 20 months.
Westley has staying power
Batsman of the day Essex have gained an unfortunate reputation for the number of talented cricketers who have left them to prosper elsewhere. Varun Chopra and Chris Wright, key members of Warwickshire's title-winning side, are the two highest-profile examples, and there was dismay at Chelmsford when wicketkeeper Adam Wheater defected to Hampshire, although he did have James Foster and Ben Foakes barring his progress. So far, though, Tom Westley is staying, which is so good for Essex. A slow burner who made his Second XI debut nine years ago, aged 15, Westley emerged as the best of six opening batsmen tried last year, making a career-best 185 against Glamorgan in August. It looked as if he might match that yesterday, reaching 163 with 23 fours, until he became a first victim in first-class cricket for Cameron Herring, Gloucestershire's 18-year-old keeper.
Middlesex rapidly spot opening
Team of the day Victories over relegated Lancashire and Worcestershire at the end of last summer enabled Middlesex to climb into third place in the First Division table, but it should not be supposed that this flattered them unduly. As if to emphasise the point they launched this season with a resounding win over Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, cruising home by 10 wickets after knocking off 108 to win in just 25 overs. Nottinghamshire, second favourites behind Warwickshire in the Championship betting, fielded eight players with international experience yet were outplayed in almost every respect by Middlesex, who bowled them out twice even with Steven Finn missing and new signing James Harris nursing a hamstring strain. Openers Chris Rogers and Sam Robson, meanwhile, put on more than 100 for the first wicket in both innings, a somewhat humbling experience for new recruit Ajmal Shahzad on his Nottinghamshire debut.
Stokes defies the odds for Durham
Dark horses Durham finished the 2012 Championship season with five wins from their last six matches after former England all-rounder Paul Collingwood replaced Phil Mustard as captain. Yet they began this season with only Derbyshire at longer odds for the title. One round of matches into the new season and they are fourth favourites after their quartet of seam bowlers inflicted a surprise defeat on Somerset at Chester-le-Street, where Marcus Trescothick's side, chasing 235 to win, crumbled from 130 for 2 to 186 all out. Graham Onions (3 for 65) and Chris Rushworth (2 for 46) increased their share to 15 wickets in the match while Callum Thorp dismissed the dangerous Peter Trego. Ben Stokes, sent home in disgrace from the Lions tour of Australia, also took three wickets, including Craig Kieswetter – Somerset's last hope – before he was bowled for 72.
Prince and Katich quick to click
Extras Relegated Lancashire had to settle for a draw against Worcestershire at Old Trafford but were excited by the potential carnage Ashwell Prince and Simon Katich might wreak in the Second Division as the South African and the Australian put on 181 in just 31.4 overs. Tim Groenewald claimed Derbyshire's first wicket in the First Division since 2000 when he dismissed Warwickshire's Ian Westwood in another draw.
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