Ben Stokes was one of the star performers on the opening day’s action in the final round of County Championship fixtures before the start of the 2024 T20 Blast.

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Stokes continues encouraging return to bowling

The England Test captain marked his return to action with a second innings five-for against Lancashire at Blackpool last week, a haul which also saw him get a 10-over unbroken spell under his belt. Stokes picked up 4-54 as Durham bowled out Somerset for 171. That Stokes got through 15.1 overs unscathed is another positive sign as he looks to return to full all-rounder duties ahead of the Test summer.

Abbott blasts Surrey away

League leaders Surrey were blown away by Hampshire on the opening morning at the Utilita Bowl. Liam Dawson got things going for the home side, picking up the first three Surrey wickets to fall. Kyle Abbott was then in a destructive mood after lunch, eventually finishing with figures of 5-25. In doing so, he broke Dimitri Mascarenhas’ all-time record for first-class wickets at the ground.

Essex seize opportunity to bridge gap

With Somerset and Surrey, the top two teams in Division One, both folding for sub-200 scores, Essex made the most of their opportunity to bridge the gap between themselves and the top of the table. Nick Browne and Dean Elgar put on 146 for the first wicket on a day where bat dominated ball at Canterbury.

Bailey makes early inroads for Lancs

Only 39 overs were bowled on the opening day between Warwickshire and Lancashire at Old Trafford. Warwickshire finished the day on 89-3, losing all three of their wickets to the bowling of Tom Bailey.

Lyth continues outstanding season

Yorkshire remain winless as we enter the seventh round of the campaign but individually, Adam Lyth is having an excellent season. The former England opener scored his third hundred of the year on the opening day at Wantage Road to put Yorkshire in a strong position to push for a first victory of the season.

Lamb makes hay at Bristol

It was also a good day for one of the other winless sides in Division Two, Derbyshire. Matthew Lamb, batting at five, compiled a career-best score and did so at good speed to put Derbyshire in a very strong position at the end of the day.

Pujara and Simpson grind Middlesex into the dirt

Sussex youngsters Tom Haines and James Coles made eye-catching starts against Middlesex at Lord’s but it was the veteran duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and John Simpson (against his former club) who did the heavy lifting on the first day at the Home of Cricket. Pujara reached the close unbeaten on 91.

Freak dismissal the moment of the day

An undulating day at Grace Road saw an extraordinary dismissal, that of Zain-ul-Hasan off the bowling of Ben Mike. It was one of those that you really had to see to believe.

There was no play on the opening day between Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire at New Road.