Tag Archives: glamorgan

Sol Campbell joins Chris Coleman for Wales training as he does his coaching badges

Why is the Sol shining on Wales England legend Campbell checks in on Bale and co as he begins coaching badges

Andy James


17:11 GMT, 25 March 2013



17:19 GMT, 25 March 2013

With Gareth Bale in their ranks, Wales need little help in the attacking department. But having conceded 12 goals in just five World Cup qualifying matches, it is perhaps no surprise Chris Coleman has just him some hired help in the shape of former Arsenal and England defender Sol Campbell.

The towering defender announced his retirement from playing earlier this year and revealed that he would begin earning his coaching badges.

Double, double, double trouble: Sol Campbell has been observing Wales training with Chris Coleman

Double, double, double trouble: Sol Campbell has been observing Wales training with Chris Coleman

Sol Campbell

Speaking in May, he said: 'I want to start sometime in the summer. But it's a slow burner that takes three to four years. The best thing is to get it done and over with. Eventually I want to get into something.

'But it's a long old stint to get your badges for the UK and then the UEFA badge.'

Point to prove: The former England defender retired from playing earlier this year

Point to prove: The former England defender retired from playing earlier this year

Point to prove: The former England defender retired from playing earlier this year

And now he has taking his first steps on the long road with Coleman's Wales, who on Tuesday host Croatia bidding to keep their World Cup 2014 hopes alive.

Campbell, who won two league titles and three FA Cups during his playing career as well as winning 73 caps for England, was a keen observer as Bale and co were put through their paces in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Arsenal's Sol Campbell

Sol Campbell

Sol man: Campbell enjoyed a stellar career for club and country, winning titles and caps throughout

Sol Campbell

Dan Carter misses Wales v New Zealand with leg injury

Carter forced out of All Blacks team for Wales showdown after suffering leg injury



17:34 GMT, 23 November 2012

Superstar: All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter

Superstar: All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter

Dan Carter has been ruled out of the New Zealand team for tomorrow’s Test match against Wales in Cardiff.

The fly-half Carter will be replaced by Aaron Cruden, with Beauden Barrett joining the replacements’ bench.

Carter, who has won 93 caps, suffered a leg injury during All Blacks training at the University of Glamorgan yesterday.

In nine appearances against Wales he has scored 162 points and never been on the losing side.

There has so far been no official confirmation from the All Blacks camp surrounding his withdrawal.

Carter, though, has Tweeted a picture of All Blacks training inside the Millennium Stadium this afternoon. In the same post, he said: 'Gutted not to be playing with these boys in this stadium tomorrow'.

Wales rocked by George North blow for New Zealand clash

Crisis-hit Wales rocked by North blow for New Zealand clash



23:35 GMT, 22 November 2012

Wales suffered a huge setback when winger George North was ruled out of Saturday's Test against New Zealand with a hip injury.

North, 20, suffered the injury in
training on Tuesday and his Scarlets colleague Liam Williams, who won
his only cap against the Barbarians in June, will take over on the left

Injury blow: Wales' George North

Injury blow: Wales' George North

North has scored 11 tries in his 25 Tests for Wales, and is one of the main attacking threats for the Six Nations champions, who are looking to get back on track after starting their autumn campaign with demoralising defeats to Argentina and Samoa.

Williams, who won his one and only Wales cap to date against the Barbarians in June, has impressed for the Scarlets so far this season, but in his preferred position of full-back.

Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde believes Williams is ready to face the All Blacks, saying: 'We are well aware of the threat George poses but we are fortunate to have someone like Liam, who has performed consistently well for the Scarlets, to fill in for him.

'One thing that is evident whenever he puts on the shirt for the Scarlets or for Wales is he is full of life, does not take a backward step and gives as good as he gets.'

The All Blacks could have their own injury problem with reports that fly-half Dan Carter suffered a leg or groin injury during yesterday's training session at the University of Glamorgan.

According to website www.stuff.co.nz Carter appeared in immediate discomfort and changed training bibs with Aaron Cruden during a shortened work-out because of bad weather.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was asked before training if Carter was carrying an injury and Hansen emphatically replied: 'No'.

Cruden would be the obvious replacement if 93 times-capped Carter is sidelined, although there has been no official comment from the All Blacks camp.

Carter has scored 162 points in nine appearances against Wales, while the All Blacks, who are unbeaten in 19 Tests, conclude their autumn tour against England at Twickenham on Saturday week.

Injury cut short his World Cup campaign last year, but the All Blacks still lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy after they lost Carter during the competition's pool stages.

Yorkshire and Derbyshire win promotion to Division One

Yorkshire and Derbyshire in tussle for Division Two title after securing promotion



20:23 GMT, 13 September 2012

Yorkshire have the chance to claim the LV= County Championship Division Two title after their promotion to Division One was confirmed along with Derbyshire.

Glamorgan's win meant Kent could not catch Yorkshire who head into the final day against Essex battling with long-time leaders Derbyshire for the title.

Yorkshire will take the crown if they win and Derbyshire fail to secure victory against Hampshire.

On the up: Yorkshire can now prepare for life in the top flight next season

On the up: Yorkshire can now prepare for life in the top flight next season

Their first task is to bowl Essex out a second time after leaving them a target of 388.

Yorkshire declared their second innings on 252 for eight with Adam Lyth making 51 and Azeem Rafiq hitting an unbeaten 75.

/09/13/article-2202870-14FFACEA000005DC-564_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”On the up: Yorkshire's Anthony McGrath strikes out on day three ” class=”blkBorder” />

On the up: Yorkshire's Anthony McGrath strikes out on day three

Whiteley scored an undefeated 57 out of 275 and then took two for six from five overs to give Derbyshire the advantage going into the final day of the season.

Derbyshire's place in Division One was still very much in the balance at the start of play when they trailed by 105 runs with five wickets remaining and hopes of a substantial lead vanished when Usman Khawaja went without adding to his overnight 71.

The Australian Test batsman went for a firm-footed drive at a wide ball from Sean Ervine and was caught behind and David Wainwright soon followed when he edged James Tomlinson low to first slip where Jimmy Adams took a good catch.

But Whiteley blossomed after an uncertain start and with Tom Poynton secured two precious batting points to regain the leadership of Division Two.

Sailors Mills and Clark delay motherhood to plot an Olympic course for Rio

Sailors Mills and Clark delay motherhood to plot an Olympic course for Rio



21:08 GMT, 11 August 2012

Hannah Mills woke with her Olympic silver medal next to her but her red Team GB trainers had been harder to find meaning she was barefooted when she appeared from Weymouth on the BBC’s breakfast show with her sailing partner, Sas Clark.

Kindly, Clark fielded most of the questions while Mills dealt in near silence with an aching head. An hour later, Mills, 24, was still far from her usual effervescent self. ‘Hannah was doing shots last night,’ said Clark, giggling by way of explanation. ‘So was I, but I’ve eight years more experience!’

Hannah Mills (R) and Saskia Clark (L) of Great Britain celebrate after finishing second and taking the silver medal in the 470 Women's Class Sailing

Big plans: Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills are not content with a silver and will continue training for a shot at gold in Rio

The big party thrown by their parents, and the parents of their team-mates Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, who also won silver medals in the same 470 class boats as Mills and Clark on Friday, had been a riotous night after months of abstinence from alcohol by the sailors.

‘Everyone was so happy for us, it brought home what we had achieved,’ said Mills. In just 18 months in a boat together, Mills, from the Vale of Glamorgan, and Clark, 32, from Essex, had navigated to the second step of the Olympic podium.

Yet while they appreciated the flattering comments from family and friends, many of whom they had not seen for months or longer, the two women cannot accept this is the end of their Olympic odyssey.

‘For me, the whole Olympicthing still burns prettybright and we want to get a gold medal in Rio in 2016,’ said Clark. And without hesitation, she places a quest for gold over motherhood.

Hannah Mills (L) and Saskia Clark (R)

Party girl: Hannah Mills celebrated her silver medal with a heavy night out

‘I’m the youngest of three girls and both my sisters have kids,’ said Clark, in a long-term relationship with Olympic sailor Paul Goodison, who won gold in Beijing four years ago but suffered a back injury that knocked him down the Laser fleet at these Games.

‘I’m not sure if I want to have kids. It’s a massive deal that you can’t walk away from.

‘Would an Olympic gold medal mean more than having a family At this point in time, yes. The Olympics bug gets you — and I think Paul’s up for competing again. But life also happens and we’ll see how it all pans out. Even so, I can’t see myself in four years’ time doing anything else other than being in Rio.’

Mills and Clark epitomise the sportsmen and women who, for the past two weeks, have stepped from the shadows to make a nation proud of them for the sheer purity of their ambition.

Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark for the GB Women's 470 sailing team at Portland Dorset

Big plans: Saskia Clark (right) says a gold medal is more important than starting a family at this point in her life

As part of the sailing team, they drive sponsored cars and receive a grant from the National Lottery, but Mills and Clark train and dedicate their lives to the pursuit of excellence because that is an end in itself to them.

‘There are some exceptions, but a lot of sports in the Olympics are minority ones,’ said Clark.

‘Hannah and I are not doing this to have a big house or a snazzy car.’ Each morning throughout her Olympics, Clark was sick through nervous anxiety.

‘Breakfast was a battle every day,’ she explained. But these women’s passion for their sport is an incurable addiction.

Mills said: ‘We’re both going to take some time out and do other things we want to do; but then, we’ll come back to the drawing board early next year and make a little bit of a plan of what we both want to do.’

She does not intend to return in the foreseeable future to Bristol University, where she deferred her degree in mechanical engineering after two years to concentrate on the Games.

Hannah Mills (L) and Saskia Clark

Top team: Mills, Clark and the other British sailors lived separately from their fellow British Olympians during the games

‘I want to travel and enjoy life as someone not living and breathing sailing.’

Clark added: ‘Hopefully, we’ll have lots of cool and exciting things to do in the short term. I’m probably a terrible daughter and friend because we dip in and out of their lives and miss every significant event in those people’s lives.

‘It will be nice to be on the end of the phone and go to things that happen in everyday life.’

In Weymouth and Portland, the sailors existed independently from other Olympians.

‘We’ve lived in a little bit of a parallel universe,’ smiled Clark, although the Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Princess Anne and Prime Minister David Cameron, did travel to the Jurassic coast to watch some racing.

‘We missed Kate as we were on the water racing, but the boys in the team, particularly Luke and Stuart, were very excited by her presence,’ laughed Clark. Ben Ainslie claimed Britain’s solitary gold on the water, though Team GB amassed four silver medals as well.

Hannah Mills (R) and Saskia Clark (L) of Great Britain react after finishing second and taking the silver medal in the 470 Women's Class Sailing

Hard graft: Mills and Clark will unite with their Great Britain team-mates on an open-topped bus through Weymouth

On Wednesday, the team will ride on an open-topped bus through Weymouth at the start of innumerable engagements over the coming months to celebrate their success. The popularity of the Olympic regatta was beyond their wildest imagination.

‘It’s unheard of to have any crowd watching us, let alone 5,000 people who came to see the races on the Nothe Course in Weymouth,’ said Clark. ‘You could hear the noise, the cheers, from the water.’

Most evenings, Mills and Clark had joined team-mates in the communal lounge in Team GB’s apartment block at Portland to yell and shout for British athletes competing in the Olympic Stadium.

‘Like the rest of the country, we were thrilled Jess Ennis achieved her gold medal,’ said Mills. ‘That was inspiring.’ Clark added: ‘Most of us were close to tears by the time Mo won the 10,000m.’

Mills and Clark might have been celebrating gold themselves, but for a wind change shortly after the start of their medal race with New Zealand’s Jo Alieh and Pollie Powrie.

The British girls tacked left, the New Zealanders went right and the day was lost. ‘We planned our preparation to every inch of its life,’ said Mills. ‘We were really proud of how we approached the Games and got through them.

It’s just an insane experience, especially as someone in her first Olympics at home. I wouldn’t really change a thing.’ Clark said, drily: ‘Only thing I’d change is go right in that last race.

Otherwise, I’m really proud ofwhat Hannah and I have done.’ And excited by the prospect of being together again in Rio four years from now.

James Anderson: Winning at The Oval was our tribute to tragic Tom

Winning at The Oval was our tribute to tragic Tom



20:27 GMT, 23 June 2012

The awful news of the tragically early
death of Surrey’s rising star Tom Maynard made our match against West
Indies on his home ground at The Oval a very strange and sombre

During the time immediately after the
news filtered through the previous morning, there might have been a
feeling the match should not actually be played and it was totally
understandable that Jade Dernbach should be given compassionate leave
as he was so close to Tom.

But once we were told, after practice
that day, that the match was definitely going ahead, for us it was a
case of getting on with things as best we could and producing as
professional a performance as possible to make sure we did Tom proud.

Reflection: England's players line up in a mark for respect for Tom Maynard at The Oval this week

Reflection: England's players line up in a mark for respect for Tom Maynard at The Oval this week

I’d met Tom a few times over the years
because when his dad, Matthew, was assistant coach to Duncan Fletcher,
he would come on tour for a couple of weeks here and there.

I remember him bowling at us in the
nets on one of those occasions, when he must have been 15 or 16 and,
after he started playing full-time for Glamorgan, he’d also been 12th
man for England when we played at Cardiff, so some of us knew him pretty
well. And the word was he had a very good chance of going on to play
for England.

He had loads of natural talent. In his
first couple of years at Glamorgan he was quite raw but, by all
accounts, the move to Surrey improved his game. Though I never played
against him, from what I heard and saw of him batting on TV, he was
definitely going in the right direction.

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So while it was difficult for us to
play because what had happened was still fresh in our minds, at the same
time it’s always a proud moment when you play for England, and to have
someone in our thoughts who had a very good chance of doing the same
meant we felt a strong connection.

The minute’s silence made it more
difficult in some ways. The lads were really still in shock and it was
only 10 minutes before the start of the game. But Alastair Cook said we
should try to use the feelings we had. Tom was definitely in our
thoughts all day and it was pleasing that we were able to win the game
as our tribute to him.

It was a really solid performance right from the start, nothing flashy about it, just solid. Obviously Chris Gayle hit a few big sixes at the start of their innings but I thought we stuck to our task really well.

When something happens like that you realise there are a lot more important things going on in the world than being hit for a couple of sixes by Gayle. Maybe it felt a bit easier to brush that off than it might have done. But whatever our feelings on the day and since then, none of us players can possibly comprehend what Tom Maynard’s family must be going through and our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Tragic death: Tom Maynard

Tragic death: Tom Maynard

Don't lose the aura of the Ashes

Someone reminded me that I played 14 one-dayers against Australia before finally winning one. Not surprising since they were a pretty decent team.

A more concerning statistic is that between now and the end of back-to-back Ashes series Down Under in January 2014, we are due to play against them, in all competitions, something like 30 times.

I don’t know about the ins and outs of why we are playing these five ODIs starting this week.

It’s a shame we are only playing three Tests against South Africa, particularly as, to me, it’s the second biggest Test series after the Ashes.

There is an obvious danger that people might start getting a little bit fed up with England playing Australia.

I hope that doesn’t happen because fixtures against Australia have always been really special.

Precious: Alastair Cook, Graeme Swann and Anderson celebrate a famous Ashes victory in Sydney

Precious: Alastair Cook, Graeme Swann and Anderson celebrate a famous Ashes victory in Sydney

Getting back in the swing

England's Twenty20 match against West Indies at Trent Bridge is a reminder that the 2012 World T20 is only half a summer away, starting on September 17 in Sri Lanka, and that we are the current world champions.

It’s also a reminder that the last time I played a T20 game was a couple of years ago, so I don’t really know if I’m any good at it or not!

All I can say is that I want to play for England as many times as I can in every format available.

Manchester City"s Tevez is ready to taunt Sir Alex after leaving United under a cloud

Manchester City's Tevez is ready to taunt Sir Alex after leaving United under a cloud



23:18 GMT, 28 April 2012

It should have been one of the
proudest moments of Sir Alex Ferguson’s illustrious career but it turned
out to be one of the most humiliating.

Parading around Old Trafford with his
players and their families after the final home game of the season
against Arsenal in May 2009, Manchester United’s manager was in
celebratory mood, with a third Premier League title in a row sealed and a
Champions League final against Barcelona on the horizon.

Manchester City's new signing Carlos Tevez

Comeback kid: Tevez has been in explosive form since returning from Argentina and could prove decisive against his old club

But as he waved and smiled, the
reaction from the United faithful was not as adoring as he might have
expected. For the chant which swept around Old Trafford was aimed
towards his treatment of Carlos Tevez, whose two-year loan spell at
United was about to end.

‘Fergie, Fergie, sign him up,’ sang
the fans. Tevez milked the applause, leaving Ferguson with a headache on
his day of celebration; should he pay a 26.5million transfer fee and
Cristiano Ronaldo-style wages to keep Tevez at the club, or let him go
and upset the fans

Manchester United's Rafael Da Silva (L) confronts Manchester City's Carlos Tevez during their English Premier League

Tension: Manchester United's Rafael Da Silva clashes with Tevez shortly after his summer move across the city in 2009

If Ferguson thought Tevez was a pest back then — and he already had private misgivings over his attitude to training and diet — it will be nothing compared to his feelings if the Argentine completes football’s most controversial comeback with a crucial goal in tomorrow night’s mega-Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.

Emotions have been running so high in the city that Ferguson took his squad away for two days at the Vale Resort in Glamorgan, putting his players through their paces at Cardiff City’s nearby training ground.

The title race is on such a knife edge — United lead by three points with three games left but City have a better goal difference — a Tevez goal would become as famous as Denis Law’s backheeled effort in United’s 1974 relegation season.

City have not won the championship since 1968 but defeat would also be brutal for Ferguson’s side, who led the table by eight points less than three weeks ago.

The fact that Tevez will be involved at all tomorrow night is incredible. Back in September, Roberto Mancini said the striker was ‘finished’ after refusing to warm up against Bayern Munich before he fled to Argentina to play golf.

Worryingly for Ferguson, Tevez is now not only back at City and reconciled with Mancini but also playing for the first time like a man who is content with work and life. City have won all three games since Tevez was recalled to the starting line-up. They have scored 12 goals in the process, including four by Tevez himself.

Mancini has been impressed and hints that the player — linked heavily with AC Milan, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain — might even have a long-term future at the club.

‘Carlos has played better than I expected,’ said City’s manager. ‘He hadn’t played for six months so it would have been impossible to be 100 per cent right away. But he has contributed because he is experienced and a very clever player. He still isn’t 100 per cent and I don’t think we will see the best of Carlos Tevez until next season. Where He has a contract with Manchester City. I don’t think it’s important for the moment to talk about an individual’s future.’

Ferguson and Tevez fool about

Happier times: Sir Alex and Tevez fool around in a training session back in 2009

Tevez’s long-awaited return from
self-imposed exile was sealed with an apology and handshake in
Mancini’s office at the club’s Carrington training ground.

The striker now enjoys family life in a smart rented house in Cheshire
with his wife and their two young daughters. His friend, Argentina and
City team-mate Pablo Zabaleta, is just around the corner and Tevez plays
golf regularly at nearby Mottram Hall with another City and Argentina
star, Sergio Aguero.

Carlos Tevez gestures to Gary Neville after penalty.

Taunting: Tevez gestures to Gary Neville after scoring a penalty against United in 2010

Having once spoken harshly of Manchester, Tevez is now helping out
willingly with City’s community projects — he spent Friday afternoon
playing tennis with and speaking to 60 children.

‘Carlos coming back
into the team has given everyone a buzz,’ said team-mate Joleon Lescott.
‘He relishes every game but this being United, his old club, he’ll
look forward to it more than other games.’

Tomorrow's winners will be odds-on to win the title and the losers
destined to finish the season without a trophy after disappointment in
the cup competitions. The psychological effect on both clubs might be
felt for years.

Only last season, Wayne Rooney publicly questioned whether United had
the financial might to stay ahead of City, who have changed the
landscape of the Premier League following their takeover by the Abu
Dhabi royal family in 2008. Defeat tomorrow would put that issue back on
the agenda among United diehards.

For City, Mancini’s future would also be under the spotlight even if
they finish a close second.

The Italian has only a year left on his
contract and the club would have to decide whether to offer him a
long-term deal. Yesterday he continued his ploy of talking up United to
ease the pressure on his own players. ‘United are the best team here and
maybe in Europe, with Barcelona and Real Madrid,’ said Mancini.

Manchester United's Carlos Tevez

Hair raiser: Ferguson was angry that Tevez's contract negotiations overshadowed United's 2009 title triumph

Ferguson has claimed that City will go on to win the League if they take
three points tomorrow but Mancini disagrees. ‘Even if we win, they are
favourites,’ he insisted.

Both managers will try to second-guess the other’s line-up before naming
their own teams. Common sense would suggest Mancini will stick with the
players who have won their last three games in style.

But Mario Balotelli is available again after a three-match ban and
despite his chequered disciplinary record this season, he has an
excellent record against United, scoring twice against them in October’s
6-1 victory at Old Trafford.

‘I think I can trust him for this game. Only for this game!’ said
Mancini, who may start with Balotelli and hold Samir Nasri back to make
an impact later on.

Phil Jones and Chris Smalling may be recalled by Ferguson after the defensive shambles of the 4-4 draw against Everton.

For one moment yesterday, Mancini forgot his mind games to declare: ‘We
were on top for 28 games. Then United had an eight-point lead. Now,
because of their result against Everton, we have this small chance. It’s
like a final. We have one chance, that’s it.’

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Manchester United train in Cardiff ahead of Manchester derby

Away we go! Fergie takes United on Cardiff getaway ahead of crunch Manchester derby



16:49 GMT, 27 April 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson put his players through their paces in Cardiff to take them away from the intense spotlight of Manchester ahead of Monday's title-deciding derby at the Etihad Stadium.

United squad set off on Friday morning for a two-day stay at the Vale Resort, a golf and spa retreat in the Vale of Glamorgan and trained at Cardiff City's nearby training ground.

Having a ball: Wayne Rooney carries United's training footballs alongside manager Sir Alex Ferguson in Cardiff

Having a ball: Wayne Rooney carries United's training footballs alongside manager Sir Alex Ferguson in Cardiff

Ferguson organised a similar break at St Andrews before United's last Monday night game against Blackburn at the start of this month.

The Old Trafford boss felt some of his younger players were feeling the pressure and was delighted with the outcome as United won 2-0 at Ewood Park to go five points clear at the top.

Training day: Nani

Raring to go: Rio Ferdinand

Training day: Winger Nani and defender Rio Ferdinand (R) looked focused in their derby preparations

After last weekend's 4-4 draw, Ferguson's side now a three-point lead going into the crunch clash with rivals City needing a win to keep the Barclays Premier League crown within their grasp.

The squad appeared to be in high spirits with striker Wayne Rooney acting as ball boy after the training session in south Wales, while defender Rio Ferdinand and winger Nani were both involved.

Away we go: Rooney and Ashley Young take a ride to training on a golf buggy

Away we go: Rooney and Ashley Young take a ride to training on a golf buggy

County Championship batsmen will weather April storm – The Top Spin

Come what May tortured batsmen will weather cruel April's storm



11:08 GMT, 24 April 2012

Batsman's blues: Andrew Strauss proves it's not just the weather that's looking glum this April

Batsman's blues: Andrew Strauss proves it's not just the weather that's looking glum this April

TS Eliot is never more regularly quoted in county cricket circles than he is in April, his now almost-cliched 'cruellest month'. Yet what other literary reference does a better job of encapsulating the current state of mind of our domestic batsmen

After three rounds of championship matches, a dizzying set of possibilities presents itself: either county batsmen aren't very good; or the bowlers are outstanding; or the art of building an innings is vanishing fast; or conditions are unplayable; or batsmen, wrongly assuming conditions to be unplayable, are trying to make hay while the sun doesn't shine. You may be able to add to the list.

But, wow, the numbers! In 22 so-called four-day matches thus far, there have been 15 all-out totals of 150 or fewer (not including Glamorgan's brave but doomed declaration on 103 for nine against Hampshire), and a further 15 scores of under 200.

That's right: in a mere three rounds of games, 30 innings have closed before a single bonus point has even been plucked from the lowest-hanging of county cricket's branches.

Only a few have breathed rarefied air: Kent made 537 for nine against Yorkshire; Nottinghamshire compiled 403 in the second innings against Worcestershire; and Somerset – for whom Nick Compton (685 first-class runs at 137) and James Hildreth (411 at 102) are this month's black swans – declared on 445 for two against Nottinghamshire.

There have been ten scores above 300 but below 400, and a decent handful of totals between 200 and 300.

But, overall, the chances are you'll be struggling for those first-innings bonus points – especially if you're Nottinghamshire (118, 161 and 162 in their three first innings, despite that second-innings 403), or Worcestershire (130 and 119), or Glamorgan (124, 95 and 103 for nine declared). Northamptonshire haven't got past 134 in three attempts out of four.


For more cricketing musings, please follow us on Twitter: @the_topspin

Now, unless you believe that what we
are witnessing is the thin end of a wedge marked 'Twenty20' – the
inevitable consequence of a world in which speed is of the essence –
then it's probably fair to say that conditions, both real and imagined,
are playing their part.

In other words: yes, the ball is
swinging more than usual under damp skies and, yes, it's doing a bit
more off the seam – but it isn't swinging and seaming so much that
batsmen need to forgo the fundamentals and aim in a blind panic across
the line.

Know your Onions: Durham seamer Graham (centre) has enjoyed a flying start to the season

Know your Onions: Durham seamer Graham (centre) has enjoyed a flying start to the season

Top Spin

Those who witnessed, for example, Surrey's second-innings collapse at Lord's, where they were skittled for 137 in pursuit of 141 to beat Middlesex, attest to the latter.

And yet it would be counterintuitive to ascribe everything to scrambled minds. Good bowlers, after all, are doing what good bowlers do, and taking wickets in helpful conditions: Graham Onions has 16 at 10 for Durham; Steven Finn seven at 14 for Middlesex; Andre Adams 13 at 17 for Nottinghamshire; and Alan Richardson 17 at 14 for Worcestershire.

The question that matters more is
whether this is good for the game. And here the critics might point to
other analyses: Darren Maddy five wickets at 11; Steve Magoffin nine at
six; Rikki Clarke five at 18. Old members of the seam-bowling union
might legitimately argue that the brand is being cheapened.

Bucking the trend: Somerset's James Hildreth

Bucking the trend: Somerset's James Hildreth

Isn't it the case, though, that cricket throughout the whole of April is now a fact of life Even with a shorter Twenty20 tournament this year, the need to cram everything in before the Champions League in September means ambitious batsmen can set themselves a new target: 500 runs before the end of April.

Anyway, batsmen generally get their moment in the sun during the warmer summer months. Not for nothing was Neville Cardus able to rejoice in the myth that the scoreboard at Trent Bridge always read 360 for 2. (One-hundred and sixty for nine doesn't have quite the same ring…)

Perhaps if we looked at the county season as an elongated four-day match, these discrepancies would be easier to accept: help for the seamers early on (April), flattening out on the first evening and second morning (May and June), at its best for batting on the second afternoon until tea on day three (July), some help for the spinners (August), and perhaps a bit of uneven bounce for the quicks (September).

It's one reason why county batsmen might be better off putting TS Eliot out of their minds, and turning instead to Hal Borland. 'April,' he wrote, 'is a promise that May is bound to keep.' We shall see…


KP on fire

Congratulations to Kevin Pietersen for his superb 64-ball 103 not out for Delhi Daredevils against IPL whipping boys Deccan Chargers at the Feroz Shah Kotla last week.

As if we needed reminding, there are few better to watch when he's in the mood, and Pietersen himself was moved to declare that his innings was 'what dreams are made of'. Quite where this leaves his 158 at The Oval in 2005 – or even his 151 earlier this month in Colombo – is unclear.

But if he's still playing like this come the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September, put your money on England to retain their trophy.

Living the dream: England star Kevin Pietersen is lighting up the IPL with the Delhi Daredevils

Living the dream: England star Kevin Pietersen is lighting up the IPL with the Delhi Daredevils

Captain Clarke shakes things up

Andrew Strauss recently explained to Mike Atherton why he prefers to dry batsmen up rather than blast them out: when your seamers are as accurate as England's, this makes perfect sense, even if it leads to the charge that Strauss presides over attritional cricket.

And yet Ashes devotees will note that there is little danger of the same accusation being laid at the feet of Michael Clarke.

It was bold enough to declare 43 behind in the first Test in Barbados, a decision that took clever account of West Indies' brittleness and paved the way for a thrilling win. But to set West Indies 215 in 61 overs in Trinidad, when a draw would have guaranteed the Frank Worrell Trophy, was a slap in the face for the conservatism that so often blights Test captaincy.

If Strauss is still in charge next year, the Ashes could be a study in contrasts.

Caution to the wind: Michael Clarke has reinvigorated Australia with his daredevil approach

Caution to the wind: Michael Clarke has reinvigorated Australia with his daredevil approach

With friends like that/Tait…

More from Lawrence Booth…

Top Spin: Time for Twenty20 to pay some of Test cricket's bills… it's what families do

The Top Spin: Chastened, not disheartened – why England can afford a smile again

Top Spin at the Test: Spinner Swann on song for England

Top Spin at the Test: Mahela makes the mathematicians earn their keep

The Top Spin: Colombo is England's chance to nip the doomsday Test scenario in the bud

The Top Spin: Testing times ahead as five-day game could be reduced to Ashes

Top Spin: Two Indian greats… but only one Little Master: Why Tendulkar outshines Dravid

The Top Spin: Last-ball drama shows Dernbach can prosper with back-of-the-hand tactics


Until now, it seemed Darren Gough's
prolonged 'Wooooooh!' during a one-day international at
Chester-le-Street in 2005 had been the most appropriate sledge following
Shane Watson's decision to spend the night in Brett Lee's room after
hearing tales of Lily Lumley's ghost at the local castle.

But then, this week, Aussie fast bowler Shaun Tait spoke to Dan Norcross on Test Match Sofa. 'They're great blokes,' he said of his compatriots, 'but I think you can tell just by looking at them that they had the night light on as kids. I think it was just an excuse to sleep in the same bed.'

You just can't win

Cricket is forever in search of the Perfect Pitch, the Platonic ideal of groundsmanship whereby seamers have it their way on the first morning, spinners lick their lips going into the last day, and batsmen fill their boots in between.

Then reality gets in the way: the English weather, mainly, as discussed above. Few batsmen struggled more torturously last week than Andrew Strauss, who was bowled for nought and six by Graham Onions at Lord's. Tsk, muttered the greybeards: batting's a lottery.

And yet it wasn't so long ago that we were all hammering Lord's for producing Test-match roads. As Mick Hunt, the ever-pithy groundsman, put it to ESPNcricinfo: 'They grumble if you give them flat pitches and if you give them sporty ones they squawk.'

County Championship opening day – Quick Delivery

County Championship Quick Delivery: All the big news from the opening day of the season



18:31 GMT, 5 April 2012

Centurion: Dan Redfern of Derbyshire

Centurion: Dan Redfern of Derbyshire

Derbyshire batsman Dan Redfern scored the first Championship hundred of the season, his maiden first-class ton.

The 21-year-old left-hander reached the landmark off 126 balls and went on to make 110 (which included 13 fours) as his county scored 286 against Northants at Derby. In reply, the visitors struggled to 28 for three at stumps.


18 – minutes it took Glamorgan to gain the first point of the new LV County Championship season at Grace Road. Leicestershire were none for two after two balls thanks to Huw Waters, who then had Matthew Boyce caught by Gareth Rees to leave the hosts one for three and give Glamorgan their point.

Leicestershire recovered though, and were all out for 249. The visitors then also lost quick wickets, ending the day on 25 for five.


'Hmmm not too sure about the first day of the season went today.Felt good, bowled well,Kent are 350-5.Cheeky 1-for for me #veryflatdeck!'

– Ajmal Shahzad

You beauty: Ajmal Shahzad celebrates dismissing Brendan Nash of Kent

You beauty: Ajmal Shahzad celebrates dismissing Brendan Nash of Kent

It could have gone very badly for Yorkshire at Headingley had Rob Key not ran himself out on 97. The Kent skipper pushed the ball to Andrew Gale at mid-off and set off, but unfortunately for Key the Yorkshire captain hit the stumps.

Despite the needless loss of their captain – who looked in superb nick – it was a good day for Kent, for whom Scott Newman (who was caught brilliantly by Anthony McGrath at slip off Shahzad) and Brendan Nash both scored half centuries to frustrate Division Two favourites Yorkshire.

Caught short: Tom Maynard hits a boundary

Caught short: Tom Maynard hits a boundary

Jade leaves Tom stranded

Maynard could have been the third player to score a century but he ran
out of partners at The Oval. The Surrey batsman hit a classy unbeaten 86
but was left stranded by Jade Dernbach's dismissal as Sussex dismissed
the hosts for 264, with Amjad Khan taking five for 57.

Sussex closed on 105 for five in reply.

Read all
about it

Worcestershire bowler Richard Jones also studies sports journalism at Staffordshire University but he was making headlines rather than writing them, taking six for 32 as his side skittled Nottinghamshire for 118.

The pitch inspectors will definitely take an interest as 20 wickets fell at Trent Bridge, with Worcestershire bowled out for 130 in reply.

Six-shooter: Worcestershire bowler Richard Jones in action at Trent Bridge

Six-shooter: Worcestershire bowler Richard Jones in action at Trent Bridge

Vernon's the real deal

It was a late start at Taunton but Vernon Philander typically did not wait long to make an impact for Somerset. The second-fastest man to 50 Test wickets had Middlesex opener Sam Robson caught behind off the third ball of the match.

You get the feeling Philander, who finished with three for 21 before bad light stopped play, will take a lot of wickets before he joins up with South Africa for the Test series v England.