England watch: Foakes off to a flier, Crawley falls just short while Lawrence finds form at Lord’s
The County Championship is back and with Ashes looming ever closer, several of those on the England selector’s radar will be hoping to make-hay in the early season and claim a spot in the squad of players who will take on Australia.
With several multi-format players currently involved in the IPL, those who didn’t get a deal from a franchise are on display at county grounds up and down the country. Here’s how those who have been playing Test cricket over the winter and those on the fringes got on in the first round of competition.
Ben Foakes – Surrey
76 & 103 v Lancashire
Foakes got off to a flier with an unbeaten 103 runs in his second innings off just 95 deliveries. The keeper-batter leads the run-scoring charts after the first matches, having scored 179 runs combined in both his innings. Surrey dominated the first three days of play at Old Trafford before Josh Bohannon’s century frustrated the visitors on day four, forcing them to settle for a draw. With the Jonny Bairstow question looming large, Foakes’ innings has done him no harm in the selection race.
Rehan Ahmed – Leicestershire
3-89 & 85 v Yorkshire
Ahmed helped secure Leicestershire’s first victory after 19 months as they won by three wickets on a dramatic last day at Headingley. The 18-year-old took 3-89 and scored a composed 85 runs off 121 deliveries after a shaky start to the match with the ball.
Zak Crawley – Kent
91 & 3 v Northamptonshire
In a comfortable victory over Northamptonshire, Crawley looked to find some form. A composed 91 in his first innings was cut short just shy of three figures when Chris Tremain got him caught in the covers. Nevertheless, his knock steered Kent away from a first innings collapse after bowling Northants out for 117, allowing them to take a seven-wicket win.
Ollie Pope – Surrey
13 & 38 v Lancashire
Pope missed out on a big score as Surrey set Lancashire a substantial target of 444 to win at Old Trafford.
Dan Lawrence – Essex
105 & 37 v Middlesex
In Essex’s first County Championship victory at Lord’s since 2009, Lawrence performed well with the bat as they won by 97 runs. His first innings century was the only hundred of the match, a free-flowing knock in between the drizzling rain which set Essex up to take a big first innings lead.
Ben Duckett – Nottinghamshire
24 & 51 v Hampshire
Notts took a defeat at The Ageas Bowl in their first match in Division One after being promoted last season. Duckett, (Notts’ top scorer of the match) finished with a total of 75 runs in his two innings including a half-century in the second.
Alex Lees – Durham
79 & 17 v Sussex
After a quiet winter, Lees starts the season with a respectable 96 runs from his two innings. It wasn’t enough for Durham, however, as a they fell to a two wicket defeat to Sussex, Cheteshwar Pujara staring in the first innings.
Matthew Potts – Durham
2-50 & 0-87 v Sussex
Potts impressed in the summer of 2022, taking 20 wickets in the five Tests he played. Last season, he took 58 wickets in the County Championship, finishing behind Toby Roland-Jones as the second leading wicket-taker. He had a modest start to 2023 in a Durham defeat.
Jack Leach – Somerset
4-119 v Warwickshire
A four-for by Leach in Somerset’s rain-affected draw against Warwickshire. He dismissed four out of five of Warwickshire’s top order after play wasn’t possible on day one. 27* with the bat as well.
Matt Parkinson – Lancashire
1-103 & 5-120 v Surrey
Parkinson claimed five-for in the second innings against Surrey. There were some magic balls to Rory Burns and Pope in his spell, but still some inconsistency from the leg-spinner.
Jamie Porter – Essex
6-35 & 3-34 v Middlesex
Porter had a great start to the season with nine wickets in the match, helping Essex end their dry spell away against Middlesex.
Keaton Jennings – Lancashire
76 & 16 v Surrey
Jennings was the County Championship’s highest run scorer in 2022, with an average of 72.52. He started this season strongly with 76 from 156 balls in his first innings against Surrey.
Dawid Malan – Yorkshire
132 & 3 v Lancashire
A quick fire 132 from just 154 balls sees Malan off to a good start in Division Two for Yorkshire.
Jamie Overton – Surrey
Overton has suffered a stress fracture in his back and will out of action for Surrey for some time – although Surrey have not confirmed how long his recovery will be.