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Bancroft hits second ton, Stokes takes two in county return

England Test captain made a successful bowling return for Durham on day one as Cameron Bancroft registered a second straight century for Gloucestershire

Cameron Bancroft has issued another statement knock with a second straight county ton to put Gloucestershire in a commanding position at stumps on day one of their clash with Leicestershire.

Sent in at Grace Road by Foxes skipper Lewis Hill, Bancroft and opening partner Ben Charlesworth amassed a record 316 runs for the first wicket – the County Championship's highest opening stand against Leicestershire in first-class cricket, beating the 315 put on by Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton for Yorkshire in 1937.

The West Australian continued where he left off during his unbeaten 130 against Northants last weekend that led Gloucester to a drought-breaking victory, moving effortlessly to 50 off 84 balls, his third time past the mark in as many innings.

He had some fortune when dropped by compatriot Peter Handscomb at slip off leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed on 84 before reaching back-to-back centuries – his 28th in first-class cricket – with a single off Scott Currie.

The right-hander wasn't done yet though and was especially strong square of the wicket on both sides, hitting his 18th boundary to reach 150 and take his season tally towards 500 runs with an average of 62.12.

Emerging batter Charlesworth, who brought up his maiden first-class century in his 37th match, was first to go for 126 off 228 with score on 316, caught at long off by Marcus Harris, who has extended his stay at Leicester this season for the next two matches.

Bancroft followed for 160 just over 10 overs later with the score on 360, as Ollie Price (29no) and Miles Hammond (15no) took Gloucester to 2-385 at the close of play.

At Blackpool where the crowd swelled to catch a glimpse of Ben Stokes in his much-anticipated county return for Durham, former England opener Keaton Jennings (115) registered his 13th first-class century for Lancashire and first against his former club.

The England Test captain – who made himself unavailable for next month's T20 World Cup to prioritise returning to full fitness as an allrounder – sent down 17 overs in a solid first hit-out of the home summer.

He finished the day with 2-70, claiming the wickets of Josh Bohannon and Kiwi import Tom Bruce, with Nathan Lyon five not out as Lancashire reached 9-350 at stumps.

Elsewhere, Australian Test No.3 Marnus Labuschagne managed just 23 in a new role opening the batting in his first game of the season for Glamorgan as the Welsh county were bundled out for 183.

Having been put in to bat by Middlesex, the Australian star was asked to take up an unfamiliar spot as opener and evidently decided the best policy to counter the early movement was to go on the offensive.

He clouted five boundaries on his way to a swift 23 off 31 balls, before driving airily off Tom Helm (4-44) to give Middlesex their prize wicket.

Sean Abbott took 1-22 off six overs as Worcestershire struggled to 7-112 at The Oval in reply to the reigning champions' 213, while Matthew Renshaw hit 40 off 56 balls with six fours and a six as Somerset finished day one against Kent 7-440.

2024 Division Two County Championship standings

Team
Matches played
M
Wins
W
Losses
L
Drawn
D
No results
N/R
Deductions
Ded.
Batting Bonus
Bat
Bowling Bonus
Bowl
Total points
PTS
1 Sussex Sussex SSX 7 3 1 3 0 2 20 19 109
2 Middlesex Middlesex MSX 7 2 0 5 0 0 14 15 101
3 Leicestershire Leicestershire LEI 7 0 0 7 0 0 21 15 92
4 Gloucestershire Gloucestershire GLO 7 1 1 4 1 0 20 14 90
5 Northamptonshire Northamptonshire NOR 7 0 1 6 0 0 18 17 83
6 Glamorgan Glamorgan GLA 7 1 1 5 0 0 12 14 82
7 Yorkshire Yorkshire YRK 7 0 2 5 0 0 16 21 77
8 Derbyshire Derbyshire DBY 7 0 1 5 1 1 12 11 70

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

D: Drawn

N/R: No results

Ded.: Deductions

Bat: Batting Bonus

Bowl: Bowling Bonus

PTS: Total points

Australians in the 2024 County Championship

Durham: Ben Dwarshuis, Ashton Turner (both T20s only)

Essex: Daniel Sams (T20s only)

Glamorgan: Marnus Labuschagne

Gloucestershire: Cameron Bancroft, Beau Webster

Hampshire: Michael Neser, Ben McDermott (T20s only)

Kent: Wes Agar, Charlie Stobo, Xavier Bartlett (T20s only)

Lancashire: Nathan Lyon, Chris Green (T20s only)

Leicestershire: Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris

Northamptonshire: Chris Tremain (first four matches only)

Somerset: Matthew Renshaw

Surrey: Sean Abbott, Spencer Johnson (T20s only)

Sussex: Nathan McAndrew, Daniel Hughes