Mixed results for new rule in County opener

There was a new rule in action on the opening day of the English season, with mixed results for the captains who took advantage of it

Former Test opener Chris Rogers made history yesterday as one of the first captains to shun the coin toss and bowl first on the opening day of the County Championship.

New Somerset captain Rogers was among four captains to take advantage of a new rule in England’s first-class competition allowing the away team skipper to elect to field first without a toss.

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There were mixed results for the quartet. Surrey’s Gareth Batty may have been wishing he’d seen some legal tender earlier that day, after Nottinghamshire piled on 446 at almost five an over against Surrey.

Australia Test seamer Jackson Bird will get into his work for Notts on day two, as he looks to claim his fourth successive first-class five-wicket haul.

Sussex captain Ben Brown may also have been rueing his decision to bowl first without tossing, with Northamptonshire 2-296 at stumps, courtesy of young opener Ben Duckett’s unbeaten 178.

Somerset fared better with Duke in hand, rolling Durham for 256, but then collapsed to 3-30 after a tricky 12-over period before stumps. Rogers, coming in at No.4 after nightwatchman Josh Davey fell, is not out on three.

With Hampshire reduced to 7-87 after lunch, Warwickshire captain and former England batsman Ian Bell would have been delighted with his decision to eschew the toss as Keith Barker picked up five of Hampshire's top six batsmen.

A counter-attacking 84 from South African allrounder Ryan McLaren dragged Hampshire back to a more respectable 8-189, but Bell’s men remain in the box seat.

Chelmsford was the only Championship venue to see a coin flipped in anger, as Gloucestershire elected to bat against Essex, who will hope to benefit from a rare appearance from England captain Alistair Cook.

Promising young Western Australia opener Cameron Bancroft made his Championship debut for Gloucestershire but was trapped lbw by former Warriors’ teammate Matt Dixon, now playing for Essex on an English passport.

Gloucestershire were bowled out for 262 and Essex are 1-39 in reply with Cook at the crease on 17, after the Test opener snared this catch at first slip earlier in the day.

Although one cricketing custom was forsaken on the opening day of the County season, another English tradition was on exhibition at New Road, with day one of the Worcestershire-Kent match washed out.