Jamie Smith plundered a century as LV= Insurance County Championship leaders Surrey made Middlesex toil at Lord’s.

Smith was still there at the close on 120 alongside Jordan Clark on 34, with the visitors having reached 312 for five despite losing opener Dom Sibley for just three.

Tom Helm’s three for 86 helped to peg back some ground, but Surrey left the field the happier.

Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook hit an unbeaten 64 as Essex closed to within 101 of Kent with 10 wickets in hand after an eventful opening day at Chelmsford.

Jamie Porter and Sam Cook took three wickets each as the visitors, who elected to bat, were skittled out for just 207 in 59 overs, with opener Ben Compton’s 47 the most notable contribution.

Cook and Nick Browne got Essex’s reply off to a strong start to reach the close at 106 without loss.

George Balderson and Tom Bailey mounted a rearguard action against Warwickshire to edge Lancashire towards 300 with an unbeaten eighth-wicket partnership of 145.

Number seven Balderson reached stumps six runs short of a century with number nine Bailey 75 not out to help the visitors to 295 for seven.

Nottinghamshire will resume against Hampshire trailing by 79 runs with five wickets in hand after an eventful day at Trent Bridge.

Brett Hutton, Dane Paterson and Lyndon James each took three wickets as the visitors were bowled out for 166.

However, Ian Holland claimed four for 19 in eight overs to reduce Nottinghamshire to 87 for five.

Northamptonshire seamer Jack White’s five-wicket haul could not prevent Somerset reaching the 350 mark.

White claimed five for 77 at the County Ground as the visitors were eventually dismissed for 351 with opener Sean Dickson top-scoring with 70 and George Bartlett making 55.

In Division Two, Derbyshire wicketkeeper Brooke Guest frustrated leaders Durham with a career-best 145 not out as the home side ended day one 317 for six after being put in.

Number three Guest hit 22 fours in an unbeaten 257-ball stay and put on 118 for the third wicket with Wayne Madsen, who made 62, before Durham skipper Scott Borthwick took two late wickets to edge his side back into it.

England spinner Rehan Ahmed provided some much-needed resistance as Leicestershire attempted to avoid a significant first-innings deficit against Worcestershire at Oakham.

Ahmed made 25 not out as the home side slumped to 88 for eight in response to the visitors’ total of just 178.

Matt Salisbury and Wiaan Mulder both took three Worcestershire wickets, but Dillon Pennington matched the feat at a cost of just 24 runs as the hosts crumbled.

Yorkshire’s Matthew Fisher took four for 53 as Sussex were reduced to 120 for six on a rain-affected day at Headingley.

Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Nathan McAndrew ended a day on which only 42 overs were bowled unbeaten on 29 and 25 respectively.

Yorkshire chief executive Stephen Vaughan hopes to secure the club’s financial future within a matter of weeks, but admits he had to “kiss a lot of frogs” before finding a suitable investor.

The county owes the Graves Family Trust nearly £15million and also faces a hefty fine following a CDC investigation into historic racism, with Vaughan working on refinancing the debt ever since he took over in November.

Former chair Colin Graves angrily withdrew his own interest in returning after claiming he had been treated as a “last resort”, while former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, backers of IPL franchise Delhi Capitals and Prince Badr of Saudi Arabia are among a long list of those linked with Yorkshire.

Others from India and the UK have also been involved in talks and, with an initial £500,000 payment to the Graves Trust due in September, Vaughan is confident a deal is close.

But he also admitted the process had been far from straightforward.

“We’ve spoken to a lot of people. In these situations you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs,” he said.

“I really did kiss a lot of frogs, I carry Lipsil around with me I’ve kissed so many. Hopefully (we’ve found a prince), but not the Saudi prince we were reported to have met. We don’t remember that one!

“It was always going to be a very difficult time to attract a traditional financier in the UK. The club’s brand equity wasn’t as high as it could have been because we were in the news for the wrong reasons.

“But we’re now at a place where we’ve got a bedfellow we’re working with. It’s not a takeover, not a buyout, it’s an investor coming in to ensure we can move on and continue our journey.

“We’re hoping in weeks rather than months we’ll be able to announce we’re getting something done. These things are always full of legal conversations, lawyers to lawyers, and you’re only as fast as your slowest runner in the race.

“We’ve got to start a new chapter for Yorkshire. We want to be unapologetically modern and progressive.”

Vaughan explained that the market interest in the club had been huge, but most were looking for an outright controlling stake that Yorkshire were unwilling, and unable, to offer.

“We could have sold Yorkshire cricket 15 times over,” he said.

“It wouldn’t even have to go on the market. Everyone wants a piece of Yorkshire cricket, but we’re a members’ co-operative and the dynamic changes dramatically.

“You go from dozens of organisations saying ‘how much can we pay for Yorkshire cricket, we’re desperate to buy it’, to explaining that it’s not an equity play, it’s a loan. That takes out 99% of the market immediately.”

County Championship holders Surrey suffered their first home defeat in 19 first-class matches as Lancashire completed a 123-run victory in just 45 minutes on day four at the Kia Oval.

Will Williams picked up four for 13 in just 4.3 overs on the final morning as Surrey were routed for 84, while Tom Bailey finished with five for 48.

The pair took only 9.3 overs to claim Surrey’s last five second-innings wickets to end a run of first-class games at the Oval in which the Division One leaders have won 12 and drawn the other six.

Kent’s spinners finally overcame a late flourish from the Northamptonshire tail to wrap up an innings victory at Wantage Road and climb to eighth in the table.

Joe Denly claimed four wickets and Hamid Qadri three as the home side were bowled out for 369 despite an entertaining ninth-wicket stand of 70 between Ben Sanderson and Jack White.

In Division Two, a magnificent unbeaten century by Peter Handscomb led a successful rearguard action as Leicestershire secured a draw with leaders Durham.

The Australian wicketkeeper-batter finished on 136 not out before bad light ended the contest with the visitors two wickets away from victory with 10 overs left in the match.

Leicestershire, who moved up to second, ended the match on 259 for eight chasing 439, with Durham having earlier declared at 343 for four after Alex Lees (145) and David Bedingham (145 not out) had shared a 243-run stand for the third wicket.

Sussex’s last-wicket pairing of Oli Carter and Henry Shipley survived over 20 overs to frustrate Glamorgan and eke out a draw in Cardiff.

The visitors finished on 273 for nine, 85 runs behind, with Carter on 55 not out after being dropped from two difficult chances, and number 11 Shipley unbeaten on eight.

Worcestershire centurion Gareth Roderick and Ed Pollock batted through sizeable chunks of the final day to thwart Derbyshire’s push for their first victory of the campaign.

Roderick battled away for five-and-a-quarter hours to make 123, while Pollock played a knock based on determined defence to register 56 off 189 balls spanning nearly four hours.

Their efforts were largely responsible for defying the Derbyshire attack as only four wickets fell in the entire day, which started with the hosts resuming on 70 for two needing another 271 just to make their opponents bat again.

Gloucestershire all-rounder Ollie Price completed an excellent maiden first-team century during an otherwise low-key final day at Headingley as their clash with Yorkshire finished in a draw.

Price moved from 97 not out overnight to reach three figures in the day’s first over as the visitors were bowled out for 464 in reply to a first-innings 550 for nine.

He was last man out for 113 off 162 balls to loanee left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty, who finished with five for 139 on his Yorkshire debut.

The home side started their second innings with a lead of 86 and reached 200 for six in the 48th over when rain stopped play at 4.30pm.

Colin Graves insists no allegations of racism were ever raised to him during his time as Yorkshire chairman but that regrettable words may have been said as part of dressing-room “banter”.

The club have admitted four charges issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board in relation to their handling of allegations of racism and bullying made by former player Azeem Rafiq.

One of the charges the club have admitted is a failure to address a systemic use of racist and or discriminatory language over a prolonged period.

Graves said there had been “a lot of banter” during his time at the club but that no allegations were ever mentioned to him.

Graves, Yorkshire chairman between 2012 and 2015, told Sky Sports News: “I think there have been odd occasions where words have been said that people may regret afterwards.

“I don’t think it was done on a racist, savage basis. I think there was a lot of – I know people don’t like the word banter – but I think there could have been a lot of banter in there about it, and I know people don’t like that.

“But when you play cricket and you’re part of cricket teams, and you’re in cricket dressing rooms, that’s what happened in the past.

“But the world has changed, society has changed, it’s not acceptable. I understand that, I accept it, full stop.”

On the allegations of racism, Graves – who withdrew his application to return as Yorkshire chairman last week – added: “When I was chairman of the club, when some of these allegations were made, I can tell you now, nothing was brought up within the club.

“Nothing was ever brought up on the table about any racism allegations whatsoever.”

The ECB issued a statement saying it was “disappointed” by Graves’ comments, adding: “We must never again hear of accounts like Azeem Rafiq’s, where racist slurs are used as part of normalised everyday language.

“These events, along with many issues experienced by Azeem and others during their time at Yorkshire have been upheld more than once, including during proceedings overseen by the Cricket Discipline Commission.

“We vehemently disagree that this is ‘just banter’ and believe that any debate in that regard should stop immediately. Racism isn’t banter.

“Yorkshire is of huge importance to cricket in England and Wales with a deep history and an ability to inspire and connect all cricket fans. They are currently working hard to resolve their financial and cultural challenges and the club, and its new management, have our full support.”

A sanctions hearing regarding the charges Yorkshire have admitted is scheduled for June 27.

Six former Yorkshire players were sanctioned last month over the use of racist and or discriminatory language. A seventh – former England captain Michael Vaughan – was cleared of using such language.

Directors of cricket from the 18 first-class counties have come together to demand a bigger voice in the future running of the sport.

Representatives from each county met at the Kia Oval on Monday to discuss their apparent loss of influence in the corridors of power and appeal for greater recognition.

A joint statement was issued on Tuesday making the case, with a reference to “new leadership at the helm of the English game” seemingly a direct appeal to England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Richard Gould and chair Richard Thompson.

The pair previously held matching positions at Surrey and are seen as friends and advocates of the domestic game, particularly in contrast to their predecessors Tom Harrison and Colin Graves.

The recent departure of the influential Sir Andrew Strauss, who was a strategic adviser and chaired the ECB’s performance cricket committee, has left a gap in expertise.

A number of specific issues are raised by the DOC group, which includes experienced former internationals like Alec Stewart (Surrey), Darren Gough (Yorkshire), Paul Downton (Kent) and Marcus North (Durham).

Most pressing was the encroachment of the global franchise circuit on the county calendar.

Where previously only a handful of elite players were in demand at high-level tournaments like the Indian Premier League, the proliferation of lucrative competitions in South Africa, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates – with the United States and Saudi Arabia poised to enter the market – has increased pressures considerably.

“The cricket landscape has changed significantly in the last couple of seasons and, following our meeting, the DOC feel they have lost some influence in many of the key decisions that have been made within the game recently,” the statement read.

“Whilst understanding the challenges of recent years, particularly post recovery from Covid, we sense there has been a recent void where there was previous DOC representation contributing to the shape of domestic cricket.

“With a new era commencing and new leadership at the helm of the English game, we would like to propose that the DOCs have a representative to sit on any future performance committees or other appropriate working groups.

“The DOCs discussed several agenda items, but perhaps the most significant was an acknowledgement across the board of the urgent need for a review of the standard player contract.

“The current arrangement leaves the clubs with little control over their players movements in the off-season, often leading to increased medical and staffing costs to ensure players are suitably prepared and rehabilitated, and there is clearly now the need for more flexibility in this area to suit both clubs and players.

“The number of players involved in winter tournaments has risen exponentially in the last four to five years and, with the US Major League on the horizon, this is becoming a very real challenge for all involved.

“The group understands that the ECB, PCA (Professional Cricketers’ Association) and county CEOs also recognise the need for this review, and we would welcome the opportunity to have a direct input into these discussions.”

Also debated were recent changes to the points system in the LV= County Championship, overseas players, umpiring and the Second XI cricket.

“There were various viewpoints considered, but despite the differing perspectives there was a strong collective feeling that the DOCs can offer very valuable input into future discussions in such areas,” it continued.

“We would ask those closest to the current decision-making processes to include the DOCs more in the future and take advantage of our many years of amassed experience.”

England bowler Craig Overton took umbrage at apparent criticism from Lancashire over Somerset’s non-declaration tactics as the sides’ LV= Insurance County Championship clash ended in a draw.

Somerset’s decision to carry on batting at Emirates Old Trafford despite their lead passing 300 in mid-afternoon on the final day of the Division One encounter provoked a sarcastic response from Lancashire’s official Twitter account.

Responding to one of Lancashire’s tweets after hands were shaken at 4:50pm, Overton wrote: “We came at you with a reasonable offer yesterday afternoon to make a game of it yet you declined.”

While James Rew compiled his second century of the match and finished on an unbeaten 118 and Kasey Aldridge claimed his maiden first-class hundred with 101 not out, the game had drifted by that point.

Lancashire, unable to call upon James Anderson because of a groin niggle, withdrew their first-choice attack in the afternoon session as batters Steven Croft and Dane Vilas shared the second new ball.

Lancashire used nine bowlers in total – including wicketkeeper George Bell, with Josh Bohannon taking the gloves – as Somerset finished on 398 for five to sit 433 ahead.

England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes took six catches as Surrey’s impressive attack inspired a nine-wicket victory over Middlesex at the Kia Oval.

Jordan Clark took four for 25, while there were three wickets for Sean Abbott and two for Gus Atkinson as Middlesex were all out for 240, with Foakes’ half-dozen catches a record in a first-class innings for Surrey against their London rivals.

Rory Burns was out for 14, but Dom Sibley (21no) and Ryan Patel (37no) helped Surrey ease to their 70-run target to help their side claim their third win of the season to stay top of the division.

Under-pressure England opener Zak Crawley curbed his attacking instincts and his half-century helped Kent avoid defeat against Hampshire at Canterbury.

Crawley amassed 56 off 133 balls before being stumped off Liam Dawson, while fellow opener Ben Compton’s 54 and an unbeaten 68 off 206 deliveries from Jack Leaning lifted Kent to 259 for four, still 18 runs behind but with Hampshire having given up hopes of forcing a win.

Durham extended their lead atop Division Two with a tense one-wicket victory over Yorkshire, with Brydon Carse hitting the winning runs despite batting with a runner because of a side injury.

Durham resumed at Chester-le-Street requiring 33 to win but with only two wickets in hand. Ben Raine (50no) and Matthew Potts (25) helped Durham close in on their target of 246, but the latter fell lbw to George Hill with just two more runs needed.

But Carse squirted his fourth ball away, calling Raine through for a couple as Durham got over the line to claim their third triumph of the campaign and leave Yorkshire still searching for their first win.

Leicestershire remain unbeaten despite being asked to follow-on by Sussex at Grace Road, with hundreds from Rishi Patel and Wiaan Mulder helping the hosts to a draw.

Patel (100) and Mulder (102no) ushered Leicestershire to 295 for six, having been asked to bat again the day before when they were all out for 270 in response to Sussex’s 430.

Derbyshire captain Leus du Plooy’s unbeaten 61 led the recovery from 28 for three to 166 for five as Gloucestershire settled for a draw at Derby.

England seamer James Anderson was a conspicuous absentee on the second morning of Lancashire’s LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Somerset, receiving treatment for a “minor issue”.

Anderson was in outstanding form on the opening day at Emirates Old Trafford, taking two for 16 from 14 metronomic overs, but left the field shortly before rain brought an early end to proceedings.

He did not emerge with his team-mates on Friday, with Lancashire confirming he was experiencing an undisclosed complaint.

A spokesperson said: “Jimmy is off the field with a minor issue, which is currently being assessed.”

Anderson, 40, is integral to England’s Ashes plans this summer, with bowling stocks already hit by fresh injuries to pace pair Jofra Archer and Olly Stone.

Archer has returned early from the Indian Premier League due to discomfort in his troublesome right elbow, while Stone faces several weeks on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring on duty for Nottinghamshire last week.

Anderson managed just four overs in the last home series against Australia, ruled out with a calf problem on the opening morning.

England begin their Test summer against Ireland at Lord’s, a four-day match starting on June 1, before the Ashes opener at Edgbaston on June 16.

James Anderson starred as Lancashire got off to a strong start against Somerset on a rain-affected first day of their LV= Insurance County Championship Division One clash at Emirates Old Trafford.

Anderson, playing his fourth consecutive four-day game for the Red Rose and his final match before the sole Test against Ireland, gave notice of his readiness for England duty with a brilliant eight-over opening spell during which he bowled five maidens, was hit for five runs and claimed the wickets of Steven Davies and Tom Abell.

Although Somerset had recovered from 12 for three to 109 for four by the time torrential rain ended play for the day, it was Anderson’s spell that will have England supporters hoping for brighter days with the Ashes beginning in just over a month.

Chris Rushworth continued his stunning start to his Warwickshire career with another four wickets as Essex’s batting imploded on a rain-affected opening day at Edgbaston.

Former Durham seamer Rushworth went into this game, his fifth for Warwickshire, with 22 wickets at 15.27 apiece and enhanced those figures further with four for 28 as Essex folded to 126 all out.

Rushworth delivered a triple-wicket maiden in the last over before tea to reduce Essex from a relatively healthy 76 for two to 76 for five. Olly Hannon-Dalby followed up in the final session with four for 21, taking him past 450 wickets in all formats.

Warwickshire then encountered turbulence of their own as they reached 17 for two at the close of a day which provided abundant drama and entertainment despite play not starting until 3pm due to rain.

James Fuller took five for 21 as Hampshire dominated the first day of their match with Kent at Canterbury.

Kyle Abbott also starred for the visitors, claiming three for 23, as they skittled Kent for just 95 before reaching 89 without loss at stumps.

Dan Worrall’s five-wicket haul helped Surrey claim the honours on day one of their match with local rivals Middlesex after the visitors collapsed to 209 all out.

A 152-run second wicket stand between Sam Robson and Pieter Malan, who both hit half-centuries, put the visitors in a position of control but they lost nine wickets for 43 runs after lunch. The hosts reached 21 without loss in reply.

Ricardo Vasconcelos and Saif Zaib shared a 50 partnership as hosts Northamptonshire reached 86 for two against Nottinghamshire before rain ended proceedings early.

In Division Two, Durham’s Matthew Potts continued his impressive campaign by taking four wickets to help bowl out Yorkshire for 254 at Chester-le-Street.

Captain Shan Masood, making his Yorkshire debut, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow failed to capitalise on starts, with Potts (four for 49) thriving. The hosts reached 42 for two in reply.

Michael Neser further stated his case for Australian selection this summer with a hugely impressive four-wicket haul for Glamorgan against visitors Worcestershire.

Neser, in partnership with Timm van der Gugten, ripped through the Worcestershire top order before James Harris claimed four wickets of his own as the visitors were bowled out for 109.

The Glamorgan top order also found batting challenging on a day where it swung and seamed throughout, moving to 177 for six with captain David Lloyd (48) leading the effort.

There was no action on day one of the second game of Australia batter Steve Smith’s three-match stint at Sussex. A wet outfield at Leicestershire did not help his preparations for his country’s World Test Championship final against India at the Oval on June 7 and the Ashes versus England, starting on June 16.

Rain meant the opening day of Derbyshire’s clash with visiting Gloucestershire was also washed out.

Nottinghamshire have announced Ashes hopeful Olly Stone is set for a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.

The England paceman, who has had a luckless run with injuries, was forced off the field after pulling up when bowling during the LV= Insurance County Championship match against Lancashire.

Despite being in obvious discomfort, Stone hobbled to the crease at Trent Bridge on Sunday as last man and kept out the last four legal deliveries of the Division One match to help his side salvage a draw.

On Thursday, Nottinghamshire released a short statement which did not give any further details of the extent of the issue, but said Stone would not be in contention for the opening Vitality Blast fixture against Derbyshire on May 26.

“Olly Stone will miss the start of the Vitality Blast following a scan of his injured hamstring,” a statement on the county’s Twitter page read.

“We, and England, will be working with Olly to get him returning to cricket in a timely manner without compromising his recovery ahead of a busy summer.”

Stone made the last of his three Test appearances in June 2021, but had made a return to some international action after recovering from a fourth stress fracture in his back and a broken finger.

The 29-year-old played in four ODIs and a T20 last winter, and was then an unused squad member during England’s Test tour of New Zealand in February.

Depending on his recovery schedule, Stones could now face a battle to be fit ahead of the first Ashes Test, which starts at Edgbaston on June 16.

Nottinghamshire have announced Ashes hopeful Olly Stone is set for a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.

The England paceman, who has had a luckless run with injuries, was forced off the field after pulling up when bowling during the LV= Insurance County Championship match against Lancashire.

Despite being in obvious discomfort, Stone hobbled to the crease at Trent Bridge on Sunday as last man and kept out the last four legal deliveries of the Division One match to help his side salvage a draw.

On Thursday, Nottinghamshire released a short statement which did not give any further details of the extent of the issue, but said Stone would not be in contention for the opening Vitality Blast fixture against Derbyshire on May 26.

“Olly Stone will miss the start of the Vitality Blast following a scan of his injured hamstring,” a statement on the county’s Twitter page read.

“We, and England, will be working with Olly to get him returning to cricket in a timely manner without compromising his recovery ahead of a busy summer.”

Stone made the last of his three Test appearances in June 2021, but had made a return to some international action after recovering from a fourth stress fracture in his back and a broken finger.

The 29-year-old played in four ODIs and a T20 last winter, and was then an unused squad member during England’s Test tour of New Zealand in February.

Depending on his recovery schedule, Stones could now face a battle to be fit ahead of the first Ashes Test, which starts at Edgbaston on June 16.

Northamptonshire’s Josh Cobb has declared himself “shocked and disappointed” by the club’s decision to oust him as T20 captain in favour of David Willey.

Cobb, 32, has held the role since 2019 and was set to lead the team in this season’s Vitality Blast until Wednesday’s announcement that England all-rounder Willey had taken the reins. The Steelbacks begin their campaign at home to Worcestershire Rapids on May 24.

Willey, who is back for a second stint at the county after returning from Yorkshire, has only just returned from the Indian Premier League.

And while Cobb wished him well, he made his unhappiness clear in a statement posted to Twitter.

“Having been blindsided by the news, I am shocked and disappointed to be relieved of my captaincy duties so close to the Blast starting,” he wrote.

“Spending the winter planning and preparing the squad, I felt we were in a good position to challenge again this year and we absolutely are!

“It has been an honour and a privilege to lead Northants for the last 4/5 years and I’ve enjoyed it all.

“I would also like to wish David Willey all the best for his tenure as captain. For now I’ll be trying to win as many games for Northants and my team-mates as I can.”

Cobb also thanked former coach David Ripley, while the incumbent John Sadler went pointedly unmentioned.

Warwickshire bowler Chris Rushworth took seven wickets for 38 runs to help his side to an impressive LV= Insurance County Championship victory over Hampshire by an innings and 84 runs at the Ageas Bowl.

The fast bowler helped skittle Hampshire out for just 97 in their second innings and finished with match figures of 10 for 76.

Hampshire totalled 229 in their first innings and Sam Hain (85), Ed Barnard (95) and Michael Burgess (88) all came close to centuries to help them clock up 410, but Rushworth’s high-quality movement helped Warwickshire to a first victory at the venue since 2010.

Azhar Ali hit an unbeaten century to guide Worcestershire to a draw with Sussex at New Road despite another stunning performance from England pace bowler Ollie Robinson which saw him pick up career-best match figures.

Robinson’s first-innings seven for 59 was matched with another incredible effort of seven for 58 in the second as he took 14 for 117.

Azhar batted throughout the day to finish on 103 not out and earned Worcestershire a draw, despite them being 109 behind after the first innings.

Sam Whiteman hit his first century for Northamptonshire to earn a draw with Somerset at Taunton.

Visitors Northamptonshire extended their overnight score from 66 for one to 311 for eight, with Whiteman leading from the front with an unbeaten 130 off 269 balls – including 14 fours and a six.

The Yorkshire-born Aussie left-hander batted throughout the day, anchored excellently by Tom Taylor, who contributed 53 to their eighth-wicket partnership of 79 that tamed a Somerset attack in the end, as both sides shook hands on a draw.

Nottinghamshire’s lower order stood strong to deny Lancashire victory on a dramatic final day at Trent Bridge.

The hosts lost their first six wickets for 55 in pursuit of 295 for victory, but a stubborn rearguard action meant they finished nine down for 136, with Lancashire falling just short of the finish line.

Lancashire declared on 329 for eight at lunch, giving the hosts 67 overs to defend for a draw.

Nottinghamshire looked to be heading for a third defeat in four when George Balderson took three wickets in 11 balls to have them six down but Joe Clarke (42) and seam bowler Brett Hutton blocked for 34 overs to offer a glimmer of a result, and they only lost two more wickets in the remaining 13 overs – the ninth with just four balls remaining – Stuart Broad also seeing out 50 balls.

Jamie Smith stood at the crease for around two-and-a-half hours to help Surrey rescue an unlikely draw at Chelmsford.

After Surrey were reduced to 103 for six with 25 overs still to hold out, Smith turned into defensive mode and helped to retain their unbeaten start to the season.

Surrey had been set a target of 273 to chase down in 54 overs. But, Surrey’s hopes of victory went up in smoke when Ollie Pope departed on 47, and they played to the close on 153 for seven, Smith finishing the day unbeaten on 39 from 126 balls.

Adam Lyth’s mammoth 174 made sure Yorkshire held on for a draw with Glamorgan after Jonny Bairstow’s promotion up the order backfired with a nine-ball duck.

Bairstow was making his senior return this week after eight months out injured when Lyth and Finlay Bean’s 99-run opening stand was broken on the stroke of lunch.

Yorkshire’s 492-run target was soon dismissed when the England batter edged to second slip off Timm van der Gugten.

Lyth was twice dropped on 48 and 69 and showed intent with his 138-run partnership with George Hill and in the end, Yorkshire were left reeling when they lost seven wickets in the final session.

Jordan Thompson (55 not out) blocked out Michael Neser’s final over to salvage a draw.

England bowler Ollie Robinson stole the show with a seven-wicket haul against Worcestershire on a day where Sussex team-mate Steve Smith was forced to wait before he made his LV= Insurance County Championship bow with the bat.

All eyes were on Australian great Smith at New Road in the first of three games for Sussex ahead of this summer’s Ashes series, but away captain Cheteshwar Pujara decided to field first after he won the toss on Thursday.

It proved a wise decision with England seamer Robinson ripping through the Worcestershire top-order on his way to figures of seven for 59 in a pleasing sign for the hosts’ chances of winning back the Urn in July.

Worcestershire did stage a recovery from 44 for five to eventually make 264 thanks to half-centuries from Adam Hose (59), Matthew Waite (59) and Joe Leach (53), but there was still enough time left for Sussex to bat on day one of the Division Two encounter.

Smith stayed in the pavilion though with opener Ali Orr and number three Tom Alsop able to get the away side through to the close on 63 for one with the Aussie set to bat at number five on day two.

Jonny Bairstow took a positive step in his bid to prove his fitness for the Ashes by claiming three catches for Yorkshire against Glamorgan.

Bairstow, fit again after an unfortunate leg break last October, kept wicket at Headingley and produced a superb grab down the leg-side to dismiss Kiran Carlson.

Glamorgan were all out for 245 and indebted to another Australian with Marnus Labuschagne top-scoring with 65 before Yorkshire suffered a late collapse to finish on 62 for five with Bairstow not out on two.

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Elsewhere in the second tier, Leicestershire were skittled for 122 with Derbyshire’s Henry Brooks claiming six for 20, which included the scalp of England all-rounder Rehan Ahmed for 23.

Hosts Derbyshire managed to wipe out the deficit before bad light brought proceedings to an early end with Haider Ali scoring 54 to lead them to 144 for three.

Both Stuart Broad and James Anderson were overshadowed by Brett Hutton at Trent Bridge on a good day for Nottinghamshire opener Haseeb Hameed against his old club Lancashire in Division One.

England seamer Broad picked up two wickets and Olly Stone also claimed a brace as Lancashire were all out for 214 but it was Hutton who did the majority of the damage for the home side with five for 66.

Lancashire, largely through Tom Bailey with 48 not out from 29 balls, had scored at almost five an over and it allowed Anderson time to get stuck into Nottinghamshire on the first day but Hameed came through unscathed to close on an unbeaten 57.

While Anderson finished wicketless from his seven overs, his team-mates fared better to reduce the hosts to 119 for five on a good day for bowlers at Trent Bridge.

Chris Woakes caught the eye for Warwickshire at the Ageas Bowl to dismiss Hampshire for 229.

Woakes picked up three scalps but Hampshire captain James Vince stood firm with 75 not out before Warwickshire reached 82 without loss at the close with Alex Davies unbeaten on 46.

Essex saw Alastair Cook (51), Tom Westley (62) and Matt Critchley (60) all pass fifty against Surrey but Gus Atkinson’s six for 68 along with Will Jacks’ two-fer saw them all out for 314 at Chelmsford.

Rain badly affected the other Division One match at Taunton where Northamptonshire closed on 137 for four thanks to Ricardo Vasconcelos’ 70 against Somerset on a day where only 37.4 overs were possible.

England seamer Ollie Robinson is enjoying being in the same dressing room as Steve Smith and doubts the former Australia captain’s presence at Sussex will have a material impact on the Ashes.

Smith linking up with Sussex for three Division Two matches in the LV= Insurance County Championship gives him a chance to get to grips with English conditions ahead of Australia’s bid to retain the urn this summer.

The union between player and county has divided opinion but Smith did not play any championship matches before the 2019 Ashes and still amassed 774 runs at a titanic 110.54 average in a drawn 2-2 series.

Earlier this week, he confessed he was welcomed to the Sussex nets by having his stumps rearranged by Robinson, who sees the advantages in playing alongside Smith and Sussex and India’s Cheteshwar Pujara.

“It’s a good battle,” said Robinson. “It’s nice to bowl at him and Pujara, I think it ups my game when I am training as well, it’s great to have them batting at the other end.

“(Smith) is obviously a very good player and I think he will score runs regardless of whether he faces me or not.

“We get a look at each other, but I don’t think it makes a big difference in the grand scheme of things.

“To have the world’s best batsman and Pujara in the same changing room has been cool. It hasn’t felt weird, I know (Smith) from previous series and it’s nice to have him around.”

Smith was restricted to a watching brief on the opening day of his championship debut at New Road, where Robinson hogged the limelight with seven for 59 as Worcestershire were all out for 264.

Robinson was a constant menace, bowling with vigour and at good pace, and only when he was taken out of the firing line did Worcestershire’s batters find any kind of rhythm at the crease.

This was only Robinson’s second outing of the season after experiencing some soreness in his back shortly after his return from New Zealand at the end of England’s winter touring programme in February.

The issue was not a major concern for Robinson but with the eagerly-anticipated five-Test series against Australia starting next month, he elected to have a pain-killing injection in the area.

“It’s similar to the one I had last year,” said Robinson, who struggled with a back problem during the 2021-22 Ashes. “I didn’t have a spasm, just the joint was getting slightly irritated.

“Last summer I let it go on and on, it took until June to be playing again. This year I thought I’d get it done as soon as possible and nip it in the bud.

“I don’t know many bowlers that don’t get jabs every year. It’s one of those things. I wanted to get on top of it before the Ashes, it feels really good now.”

Robinson’s contribution put Sussex in the driving seat – they closed on 63 for one before bad light brought an early end to the day – and, at this stage, he plans to play in the south coast club’s matches against Leicestershire and Glamorgan before linking up with England.

“I’m trying to peak for the Ashes, trying to get as many overs as possible between now and then,” added Robinson. “Three Sussex games and then the Ireland Test.

“I’m about 80 per cent, I’d say, there was a little bit of rustiness there, didn’t quite get my lengths right early on. But the wicket is quite helpful so when I did get it in the right area, they nicked it.”

Steve Smith was kept waiting for his first County Championship innings but had an excellent vantage point as Sussex team-mate Ollie Robinson ripped through Worcestershire.

The pair will be on opposing sides in this summer’s Ashes but are sharing a dressing room for now after Sussex somewhat controversially snapped up the former Australia captain for three Division Two matches.

He has been restricted to a fielding brief so far at New Road, watching from the slips and maybe making some mental notes as Robinson took top billing with seven wickets for 59 runs in Worcestershire’s 264 all out.

Robinson was nursing soreness in his back towards the end of England’s winter and this was just his second match of the season, but the seamer was a cut above as he took the first four wickets to fall.

Worcestershire recovered from 44 for five, with Adam Hose’s 59 followed by belligerent half-centuries down the order from Matthew Waite and Joe Leach, who put on 103 in 14.4 overs when Robinson was out of the attack.

But Robinson found the top of Waite’s off-stump for 59 from 54 deliveries in his first over back and then combined with Smith to remove Waite for a run-a-ball 53 as Worcestershire folded before Sussex closed on 63 for one at the end of the opening day, shortened by 21 overs because of bad light.

The expectation might have been on Sussex to bat first upon winning the toss under gloriously sunny skies but Cheteshwar Pujara’s decision to field was vindicated by Robinson’s opening burst of 7-0-30-4.

Ed Pollock collected an all-run four from the first ball of the day but another injudicious drive later in the over caught the outside edge and flew to Tom Clark, who moved across Smith to take the catch.

Azhar Ali, the ex-Pakistan skipper and jewel in Worcestershire’s crown, was caught on the crease and adjudged lbw by one angling into him while Jack Haynes, who bagged a pair against Gloucestershire last week, made just a single here before being squared up and nicking low to Tom Alsop at first slip.

Robinson had his and Sussex’s fourth when he snaked through a gap between Jake Libby’s bat and pad to uproot middle stump while Worcestershire were five down inside 50 minutes when captain Brett D’Oliveira was surprised by the extra bounce from Fynn Hudson-Prentice and an edge squirted to third slip.

Hose and Gareth Roderick settled once Robinson was withdrawn from the firing line, the pair putting on 92 either side of lunch, showing the kind of resistance that eluded those higher up the order.

Sean Hunt got a deserved wicket when Roderick feathered through to Oli Carter for 39 and the end looked nigh when Hose’s stumps were rearranged by Henry Crocombe’s precise yorker.

But Waite gave an indication of what was to come when he twice freed his arms off Hunt for leg-side sixes – another followed off Crocombe – while Leach found the boundary rope with regularity in a counter-attacking union that led to Pujara returning to Robinson sooner than may have been anticipated.

Robinson needed just six balls to break the enterprising stand, locating the top of off-stump to dismiss Waite, before Smith had his first tangible moment of the match when Leach was drawn into a stroke off the rampant bowler.

Last man Ben Gibbon lasted just two balls as he was pinned lbw to become Robinson’s seventh victim, with Worcestershire losing their final three wickets inside 13 deliveries.

Sussex openers Ali Orr and Clark showed better judgement than their Worcestershire counterparts, putting on 37 in gloomy conditions.

Clark was punished for driving loosely off Josh Tongue to depart for 12 but Orr was there on 37 not out, with Alsop unbeaten on 11, when the players came off under darkening skies.

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