Ben Stokes in action for Durham at Blackpool, and more: county cricket – live

Key events

Bohannon bustling, not a bad time to have his best innings of the season against the England captain.

Hello there Gary Naylor: “Just logging in from Dublin Airport and catching those lunch scores. We sometimes forget what a range of ups and downs one finds across even a session of county championship cricket, never mind a whole round. CEOs might not like unpredictability, but we can turn up and see a different game at every ground – at least we can with the Dukes ball.”

Agreed! Even Surrey, if briefly… though they are now rocking along at 150-4 – with Lawrence unbeaten on 82, and Pope on 58.


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Here at Blackpool, Bohannon has been dropped in the slip cordon off Coughlin, inevitably strokes four through the covers almost immediately

And Stokes is back for spell number three, fielding tigerishly off his own bowling.

Time to delve into division two:

Northants, who were clap-happy at 99-0 against Derbyshire, have lost three for four – Vasconcelos for 53, Gay for 45, Procter for a duck. Two wickets for Dal.

Glamorgan have also suffered a post-lunch attack of the wickets, now 92-6: three for Helm, two for Bamber. Labuschagne, in his first match for Glamorgan this season, caught for 23.

Gloucestershire, alone amongst the counties, haven’t lost a wicket. Bancroft 72 not out, Ben Charlesworth 36 not out. Leicestershire toiling away.

And Yorkshire’s Ben Coad and George Hill chopping through Sussex: 132-6.

Seagulls circling above the Blackpool pitch, as Ben Raine runs in. He felled Josh Bohannon just a few minutes ago with a belter into the box. At the ice-cream van, an older brother buys a cone for his younger sibling, lots of happy punters on the black tip up seats lining up around the top layer of amphitheatre. They’ve been heated to a perfect bum-warming temperature by the May sun.

Volunteers wanted!

With people frolicking on the field at lunchtime, two little shout outs –

Firstly, for the donor register – with the England and Wales Transplant Cricket Club playing three games, starting this Sunday, to raise awareness of how organ donation can save lives. Ian Jones, of Penn Street Cricket Club, received a kidney transplant in 2021.

“I am extremely grateful for the second innings I now have. Enjoying time with my grandchildren, traveling, and contributing to organizations like EWTCC and PSCC are blessings I count every day.”

Secondly, for volunteers in the Bristol area interested in cricket, climate and biodiversity (admission – I am involved with this group so this is a personal plug!)

Huge excitement from a bunch of kids, in club colours sitting on the stepped bank, as Lancashire clock up 100. Stokes winding up the pace now, shirt untucked. Bohannon, watchful, doesn’t look entirely at ease.

Stokes is back again, this time from the North End. Ray Baker, an ECB bowling pair of eyes, is apparently prowling around Stanley Road.

Somerset fair racing along against Kent, 121-3: Renshaw 50 off 56 balls, Lammonby not out 54 off 79 balls. Two wickets to Swanepoel.

The Essex bowling mafia doing their thing at Chelmsford – two for Snater, one each for Harmer, Porter and Cook. Warwicks 67-5 but Ed Barnard, who learned the art of digging his team out of a hole at New Road, 11 not out.

Pope and Lawrence have duly put on 69 at The Oval, Surrey 85-4. Lawrence just a six (and he’s already hit one) away from fifty.

Notts, hammer of the Lankies, are 41 for four: Barker, Abbas, Abbas, Abbott. Has finally out, for 20. Moores and Haynes rebuilding – incidentally, I’m told that Joe Moores, Tom’s cousin, is a super player in the Lancs academy system.

Mohammad Abbas’ first five overs of the day…


— The Cricketer (@TheCricketerMag) May 17, 2024

And a wicket here in Blackpool, Wells caught off Potts for 19. Potts, a giant, puppy-like figure, furious when his last appeal was turned down, huge paws waving around, charges about in delight. 87 equals Lancs’ highest opening partnership of the season.


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Callum Parkinson out on the far boundary edge, leaps to try to catch Luke Wells’ swing, the next second he is spreadeagled on the ground. I couldn’t tell, but those who could say he got both hands to it – but it blasted through them. Ouch.

Stokes spell is over after four overs for 26.

With an hour and twenty under the belt this morning, and Lancs easing into a comfortable position – fifty for Keaton Jennings, lets go around the grounds:

A crack as Jennings pulls Stokes for four, Wells then drives him, almost on one knee, for three. At the North end, Paul Coughlin getting the benefit of Stokes’s wisdom at the end of his mark, and his ball polishing skills. Jennings drives him, rather gorgeously for four, the next threatens to go the same way save for some rather athletic fielding by B Stokes.

Pope and Lawrence at The Oval proving that 15-4 is the time for a counter-attack. Both 16 not out at pretty much a run a ball. Joe Leach, slayer of the Champions, 3-16.

First over safely negotiated, back in the grove at a fair to medium lick. Looks in racehorse shape.

I don’t want to sound like an obsessive, but I’ve just watched Stokes doing up his shoelaces through my binoculars. Do all cricket boots have velcro straps and laces, or just if you’re superman? And here he comes: on to bowl at the South End.


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Hello Mike Daniels in the Grace Road scorebox! “Cloudy morning at Grace Road. One stand full of school children which livens the place up.

“Leics win toss and bowl

“What is it with Gloucestershire and brothers? They can field the Prices and the Taylors and the Charlesworths. Can any other county boast the same?”

At mid off, Stokes touches his toes and goes through his bowling paces. With no wickets yet this morning for Durham, and runs coming at a fair lick (tricky to be precise as I can’t seem to see a scorebaord) I reckon he fancies a bowl pretty soon.

Surrey 9-3 and more

Around the grounds: Marnus Labuschagne has returned for Glamorgan, Keith Barker makes his first appearance of the season, New Zealander Michael Rae makes his debut for injury-hit Warwickshire.

And an early tumble of wickets – Notts’ Ben Slater and Will Young, both for ducks (Notts 0-2); Somerset’s Sean Dickson for a duck (Somersest 22-1) and even stranger events at The Oval where Surrey have lost three for 0 in 14 balls – Burns, Sibley and Smith all gone (Surrey 9-3)

This is a cracking piece by Nick Friend on the remarkable SACA and Yadvinder Singh – apologies if you don’t have subscriber access.

But he is also a product of extraordinary resilience and perseverance, for whom this has been the wildest of goose chases. When he was briefly on trial at New Road in 2019, he was playing second-team games by day and taking security shifts on a construction site by night.

To fund the prolonged hunt for a professional contract, he took on paper-rounds in the early hours, delivered parcels, ticked by in airport security and worked a packing job in a warehouse until the end of last season, when his boss – forever understanding – suggested that he’d need someone more full-time than the second-team circuit can afford.

“I’ve done everything,” he says, with a weary laugh.”



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Stokes watch

This is only Stokes’ fifth CC game since 2018, and the last time he seriously bowled was the Lord’s Test last year. There was also that cameo wicket-with-first-ball five-over spell in vain during the fifth Test innings defeat at Dharamasala in March.

Previously against Lancs, he has played eight CC games, making two centuries – 185 in 2011, 121 in 2012. And taken 18 wickets at 33.18.

And we’re off, at Stanley Park and round the grounds.

A stroll round the ground, something for everyone from an expensive coffee to hot dogs from a wagon, freshly-pressed orange juice to beer on tap. Durham have won the toss and are fielding – Ben Stokes duly to play. Also Nathan Lyon and Saqib Mahmood. Damp hangs in the air, but also excitement.


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Not convinced about the light here in light grey Stanley Park….

Thank you to itinerant voice of the blog Paul Edwards for this reminder: last time Ben Stokes played against Lancashire was at Southport in 2016 – when Durham won by two wickets and hung around afterwards and Stokes played on the outfield with young players from Southport.


Chelmsford: Essex v Warwickshire

Stanley Park: Lancashire v Durham

Trent Bridge: Nottinghamshire v Hampshire

Taunton: Somerset v Kent

The Oval: Surrey v Worcestershire


Derby: Derbyshire v Northamptonshire

Sophia Gardens: Glamorgan v Middlesex

Grace Road: Leicestershire v Gloucestershire

Hove: Sussex v Yorkshire

A gorgeous morning and view at Taunton. Photograph: Jacob Hurry/PPAUK/Shutterstock

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Good morning from a northern train chugging towards Blackpool north. The skies are …filthy… but the forecast not so bad…. now arrived…..mizzle, but the taxi driver promises play.

Scott Read has delicious home-made banana cake but, perhaps more importantly, out in the middle Ben Stokes is bowling, in green socks. It will be his first Championship appearance for two years.


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