I suppose it was inevitable that the rain would intervene in the first weekend's County Championship fixtures. At least it was rain and not snow, so perhaps the weather is moving in the right direction? But the weather could not prevent it being an exciting start to both top divisions, or a first appearance for an English county from a West Indian star.
In Divisions One and Two only three of the scheduled seven games were possible. The only First Division game to survive was the intriguing fixture between last year's Division Two winners - Warwickshire - and last year's Division One champions - Kent. Kent arrived without Susie Rowe (who is on loan to Surrey this season), without Laura Marsh, who is still recovering from a shoulder operation, and without England skipper Charlotte Edwards, who was having a break in France. They did however have 16 year old left armer seamer Tash Farrant. She proceeded to blow away the Warwickshire top order - England's Amy Jones for 0; Helen Shipman 1; and Georgia Hennessy 0. Warwickshire in the mire at 4/3. It was a mire from which they never really managed to extract themselves finishing on 90/9 off their 50 overs. On the face of it not much of a score, but you don't know how well one side have batted until the other side have also had a go. Kent too were soon wallowing in mud at 44/4 with almost half their overs gone. It was time for skipper for the day, England's Lydia Greenway, to stand up and be counted, and with 44 runs she did just that. She received great support from Grace Gibbs (14), and they took the Kent score to 74/5 before Gibbs fell. Kent got home, but a late flurry of wickets, amidst the drizzle, meant they won with only three wickets to spare. It just goes to show that last year's Champions will not have things all their own way this year.
In Division Two former Division One team Somerset took on Worcestershire, who just missed out on promotion last year. Somerset batted first and made steady progress with the top four all getting into double figures - Anya Shrubsole, Ellwyn Campbell, Sophie Luff and Fran Wilson, but from 85/4 they slipped to 98/9 as Thea Brookes (4/26) ripped through the middle order. It was only thanks to a last wicket stand of 31 between Lauren Shrubsole (16*) and Jenny Withers (10), that Somerset made it to 129 before they were bowled out in the 47th over. Unfortunately Worcestershire could not get going against tight bowling from Somerset and had struggled to 30/4 off 20 overs before proceedings were brought to a halt due to the bad weather. As 20 overs had been completed the winner was decided on run rate, which meant Somerset took the win.
The other Division Two game resulted in a fairly comfortable win for Staffordshire against a young Cheshire team. Invited to bat Cheshire managed to score 128 before they were bowled out with just one ball of their innings remaining. Their total was built around a solid 52 from opener Jenny Halstead. Wickets were shared amongst the Staffordshire bowlers and it must have come as a bit of a shock to the Cheshire batsmen when one of those bowlers turned out to be West Indian Shanel Daley. She is playing for local team Meir Heath and will be with Staffs until 21st July, so should play in all the county's games. Cheryl Allcock (36*) and Francesca James (46) made sure Staffs got off to a winning start overhauling the required target with only three wickets down, but only in the 49th over. Daley made a jet-lagged 7.
The next round of games are on Sunday 5th May. More details and a preview of those games in the week before they are played.
Warwicks v Kent - http://ecbwcountychampionship.play-cricket.com/scoreboard/scorecard.asp?id=11707834
Staffs v Cheshire - http://ecbwcountychampionship.play-cricket.com/scoreboard/scorecard.asp?id=11713086
Worcs v Somerset - http://ecbwcountychampionship.play-cricket.com/scoreboard/scorecard.asp?id=11713097