County Championship Division Two: Cook leads Essex to big opening win, games at Northampton, Worcester washed-out

The opening round of matches in Division Two of the County Championship, saw Essex thump Gloucestershire behind runs from Alastair Cook

County Championship Division Two: Cook leads Essex to big opening win, games at Northampton, Worcester washed-out
Alastair Cook celebrates his first innings century against Gloucestershire at Chelmsford (image via: Rex/Shutterstock)

Essex have made the near perfect start to their County Championship season, after beating Gloucestershire by 10 wickets at Chelmsford

Ryan Ten Doeschate's side picked up 23 of a possible 24 match points in the win, which has seen them steal an early march on the rest of Division Two who are battling for just one promotion spot this season.

Elsewhere in the division, Worcestershire's home match against Kent was abandoned without the toss even taking place, whilst Northamptonshire and Sussex only managed 135 overs of their match, but that was enough time for Ben Duckett to score a career-high 282 not out. 

Essex trounce sorry Gloucestershire

After being the only away side in the country to decide on having a toss, rather than taking the option to bowl, Gloucestershire's decision back-fired as they were blown away by 10 wickets at the hands of Essex.

Captain Gareth Roderick offered resistance in both Gloucestershire innings, scoring an unbeaten 88 in the first knock, which he followed up with 58 in the second innings, but there wasn't much else in the way of runs for the visitors. 

After being dismissed for 262 on the opening day, thanks mainly to Jamie Porter's 4-59, the visitors lost any control of the game when Essex pair Alastair Cook (105) and Tom Westley (121) shared a partnership of 222 which helped the home side into a first innings lead of 123. 

Jamie Porter claimed seven wickets in Essex's big win over Gloucestershire (image via: Getty)

With the West Country side on the back-foot going into the second innings, they made the worst possible start, finding themselves at 25-4, with the top-order again being destroyed by Porter (3-53). Overseas opener Cameron Bancroft was dismissed for a duck, with Ian Cockbain following for the same score, and then Chris Dent being caught for just three. 

Roderick found a willing partner in Jack Taylor, who played a beauty of an innings, cracking 74 off 76 balls which included five maximums and seven four's. Taylor and Roderick were just delaying the inevitable though, and once Graham Napier (3-36) and Ravi Bopara (3-49) knocked them and the the tail over, Essex needed just 93 to claim a victory in their season opener. 

Cook (35*) and Nick Browne (55*) eased Essex home by 10 wickets, scoring the runs required in just under 27 overs, and giving new head coach, Chris Silverwood the perfect start to his reign. 

Duckett left stranded after final days washed-out

Sussex were given a rude awakening to life in Division Two by Northamptonshire opener Ben Duckett, who plundered an unbeaten 282 before rain brought an end to their match. 

After being relegated last season, Sussex will be amongst the favourites for promotion this year, and they will be relieved to have left the County Ground with six points and a draw after all of days three and four, and much of day two were rained off.

Ben Duckett celebrates going past 200 for Northamptonshire (image via: Getty)

Duckett's 282* off 367 have given the youngster the perfect start to the season, yet he will be upset that the weather put paid to any chance of him passing 300 which he looked set to do, with three wickets still remaining in the Northants innings. 

One positive for Sussex in their opener will be the performance of George Garton, who was making his debut for the first team. The left-arm seamer from Brighton picked up three wickets in his 21 overs, including the scalps of South African internationals Richard Levi and Rory Kleinveldt

Wet outfield sees New Road encounter abandoned without a ball being bowled

Worcestershire and Kent failed to even announce their starting XIs, after all four days of their clash were abandoned due to the combination of rain and a wet outfield at New Road

The New Road outfield, which saw all four days of Worcestershire's opener abandoned (image via: PA)

New Road groundsman Tim Packwood likened the state of the outfield to a 'jelly-blancmange', and admitted that rain on the Saturday proved costly. 

Both sides are awarded five match points despite failing to take to the field, and will have to wait a week and a half to start their seasons, with the teams due back in action on Sunday April 24.