A lively Jofra Archer took two wickets on his first bowl for Sussex since rehabilitating from both his persistent elbow problems and the finger injury he sustained when accidentally dropping a fish tank in the bath. In a pencil-point-sharp four-over opening spell, he sent back Daniel Bell-Drummond and Zak Crawley, finishing with two for 29. Crawley’s delivery in particular reared spitefully off the pitch on a good length and, surprised, Crawley gloved behind. Archer bowled two more spells.
Ollie Robinson, also on the selectors’ radar for the Test series against New Zealand in June, barrelled in, big and strong, snatching three wickets including the stubborn Jack Leaning, who made 63, and debutant Tawanda Muyeye, a former Wisden schoolboy cricketer of the year, for one. There were three wickets too for George Garton, with his characteristic stumbling follow-through, and two for off-spinner Jack Carson, as Kent were all out for 145 during an on-off afternoon of squally rain. In reply, Sussex were 51 for two at stumps, losing both openers before bad light fell.
“I bowl to Zak Crawley in the [England] nets and I have done that quite a bit,” said Archer afterwards. “Obviously, you’re never out in the nets so it was good to get him out here, with umpires. Hopefully Ollie Robinson will get his [England] chance this summer. We all know what he can do, he’s a talented bowler and his stats prove that.”
At a sun-dappled Chester le Street, an on-song Josh Tongue picked up five-wickets in the only game not to be affected by the weather. Durham were inserted by Worcestershire, whose bowlers chipped away throughout their innings. Only Alex Lees had real staying power, stroking 12 fours until cruelly deprived of his century on the stroke of tea, his eyes lighting up at the sight of a wide one from Joe Leach, only to edge it behind for 99. Mark Wood and Brydon Carse then livened things up with a bit of hoopla in a partnership of 44 – until Tongue zipped up the tail. Worcestershire survived a tricky three overs from Wood and Chris Rushworth until bad light ensured the day was done.
There were only 36 overs bowled at Lord’s, but it was time enough for Middlesex to lose their first four wickets, finishing on 90 for four. Hampshire’s Kyle Abbott, who spent some time with Middlesex in 2015, took three for 21, including Middlesex’s captain Peter Handscomb, who made his third duck of the season. There was a nice cameo of 24 from Jack Davies, in only his second first-class match, and Nick Gubbins and John Simpson carried Middlesex safely to stumps.
Play was abandoned without a ball being bowled at Cardiff, Chelmsford and Taunton.