Even the finest racehorses need a bit of rubbing down. After spending the second half of the winter on the sidelines, omitted from England’s West Indies tour, James Anderson rolled up to Old Trafford for Lancashire’s second match of the season.
He was as lithe as ever, a 39-year-old without a sign of middle age. But for one reason or another – the unaccustomed Manchester sunshine, the brisk breeze that rustled across the ground, causing spectators to pull up their gloves – he went wicketless. His first seven overs went for 21 runs; his next nine for just nine. Perhaps he pitched a little short, a little wide at times, perhaps the toast just landed butter side down.
Gloucestershire had spent the morning spreading Lancashire’s international attack of Anderson, Hasan Ali, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson around the ground, the only batting team in the entire Championship not to lose a wicket in the morning session. They then contrived to lose six between lunch and tea as Mahmood got reward for his accuracy, and Hasan Ali, whose celebrations deserve to be immortalised on the stage, bowled superbly, finishing the day with six wickets.
Another Pakistan international cut a dash, this time Shaheen Shah Afridi on his Middlesex debut against Glamorgan, on a day when 16 wickets fell at Sophia Gardens. He finished with three for 35, bowling a bewildered Marnus Labuschagne with a humdinger. Daniel Bell-Drummond made 149 as Kent inched towards 300 against Hampshire, Zak Crawley out for seven after dancing unadvisedly towards Mohammad Abbas.
Essex collapsed from 98 for two to 168 all out on a good batting track at Edgbaston, a day made worse when Dan Lawrence limped off towards the end clutching his hamstring. Tom Westley had been the last Essex man out for 80. Warwickshire were 76 for two at the close, with Alex Davies out for an archetypal bish, bang, swish on his Warwickshire debut; Dom Sibley survived until stumps.
At the County Ground, there were more runs for Dawid Malan and Harry Brook, who together put on 131, but the Sri Lanka Test captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, was dismissed cheaply. Gareth Berg proved a tricky prospect, finishing with five for 58. Yorkshire’s Jordan Thompson then took two quick Northamptonshire wickets before stumps.
At the Riverside, Liam Patterson-White snaffled five wickets as Durham struggled to 230. Haseeb Hameed was not out on 23 for Nottinghamshire at the close. Sam Conners took four wickets for Derbyshire in the East Midlands derby against Leicestershire, who were dismissed for 213.
Brett D’Oliveira’s golden touch since being made Worcestershire captain continued with his second century in two games. Dropped on 19, he made Sussex pay, blossoming through the day. The leading wicket-taker for Sussex – whose injury list includes winter signing Steven Finn and Ollie Robinson, out with a tooth infection – was the captain and opening batsman, Tom Haines.