History made as County Championship season opens

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Football News

History was made at the beginning of the new Specsavers County Championship season as most visiting captains took advantage of being given the option to bowl first.

The toss was redundant in four of the five matches that saw any play on Sunday as part of a new rule change, on a one-year trial, decided on by the England and Wales Cricket Board last November.

The toss at the beginning of a match had been a tradition that stretched for more than a century, and the ECB's decision divided opinion, but only Gloucestershire captain Gareth Roderick decided to reject the opportunity as the county season got under way on Sunday.

Roderick duly won the toss and vindicated his decision to bat first against Essex at Chelmsford with an unbeaten 88 although Gloucestershire were all out for 262, with Jamie Porter taking four for 59.

In reply, England Test captain Alastair Cook made an unbeaten 17 as Essex closed on 39 for one in their Division Two opener.

Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire are the favourites to stop Yorkshire claiming a hat-trick of championship titles and both teams made encouraging starts to their campaigns.

Steven Mullaney struck 113 at almost a run a ball and his efforts were bolstered by half-centuries by Riki Wessels, Samit Patel and Chris Read as Nottinghamshire claimed maximum bonus batting points by amassing 446 all out against Surrey at Trent Bridge.

Veteran West Indies seamer Ravi Rampaul marked his debut for the visitors, who closed on seven without loss, with five for 93.

Warwickshire left-arm seamer Keith Barker also grabbed a five-wicket haul as Hampshire slipped to 87 for seven before Ryan McLaren's unbeaten 84 lifted them to 189 for eight at the Ageas Bowl, with 20 overs lost due to bad light then rain.

In the other Division One match, Keaton Jennings' 116 provided the backbone of the innings as Durham were all out for 256 at Emirates Riverside against Somerset.

Last season's leading championship wicket-taker Chris Rushworth claimed his first two scalps of the season as Somerset were reduced to 30 for three in their response.

In Division Two, Ben Duckett made a first-class best 178 not out to help Northamptonshire to 296 for two against Sussex at Wantage Road, the left-hander striking 28 fours and a six in his imperious 225-ball knock.

No play was possible between Worcestershire and Kent as, despite sunshine at New Road, persistent rain on Friday and Saturday meant there were still wet areas around the run-ups.

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