County Championship round-up: Warwickshire's Varun Chopra stakes England claim

Ashes watch 1

The assumption is that Joe Root or perhaps Jonathan Trott will be Alastair Cook's new opening partner if the England selectors do decide to shatter Nick Compton's Ashes dream. Yet there is another who might have a claim in Warwickshire's Varun Chopra, a Lions regular who scored his third century of the season as the title-holders dominated the opening day against Surrey at Guildford, sharing 150-run stands with Ian Westwood and Tim Ambrose as he closed in on the fourth double hundred of his career.

Ashes watch 2

With an average above 40, Australian opener Ed Cowan's stint with Nottinghamshire might be counted as solid preparation for the Ashes series, although the flaw in his record is failure to make a hundred. Cowan has three half-centuries in 11 innings and has only twice been at the crease for less than an hour and a half, yet his top score is a relatively modest 81. At Scarborough he had batted three and a quarter hours for his 47 when he edged Yorkshire's Steve Patterson to be caught at slip.

Batsman of the day

At 40 years and 177 days, the former Zimbabwe Test batsman Murray Goodwin is the oldest player still getting a regular game in the County Championship. Released by Sussex after lean times last year, there were fears he had stayed on a little too long but he signed for Glamorgan and will stride out to the middle at Bristol today needing only four runs to complete his 68th first-class hundred, his first since June 2011.

Extras

Alex Hales, whose propensity for fast runs has made him a regular in England's Twenty20 side, revealed another side to his game when he spent three hours making a Championship half-century against Derbyshire in April, suggesting he could be a solid presence in a Nottinghamshire team notorious for its fragile top order. Since then, Hales has scored 4, 2, 0, 4, 17, 2, 0 and 0.

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