The 2021 domestic season got underway with all 18 counties in action across the three groups.
Somerset’s victory over Middlesex was arguably the headline result from the nine matches as they fought back following a poor first innings to win away at Lord’s. Elsewhere there were victories for Gloucestershire and Hampshire.
Remarkable weather conditions were a feature of the first round as teams around the country were forced to contend with wild swings from sun to snow and sleet.
At Chelmsford, the 2020 champions drew a high scoring affair with Worcestershire. A double hundred for Tom Westley as well an unbeaten century for Jake Libby and Ed Barnard’s maiden first-class ton set up mammoth first-innings scores for both sides.
Both sides shook on a draw with the hosts in their second innings and around two hours left to play and Worcestershire still needing to bat again.
A record fifth-wicket stand between David Bedingham, 180* and Ned Eckersley, 110* meant Durham went into the final day at Trent Bridge looking to win.
But a combination of weather intervals and a strong stand between Lyndon James, 79*, and Steven Mullaney, 69, meant Durham and Nottinghamshire were forced to settle for a draw.
Despite the game being a low scoring affair, with neither side being able to pass 250 runs in either of their innings, a fourth-day snow shower forced a draw between Derbyshire and Warwickshire.
Somerset recorded a memorable victory at Lords, despite having conceded a 141 run deficit after both sides had batted once.
But a strong bowling display with three wickets apiece for Jack Leach, Josh Davey and Craig Overton skittled Middlesex for just 143 before skipper Tom Abell, 84, George Bartlett, 76*, and Lewis Gregory, 62*, took Somerset to their target of 285 runs.
Hampshire cruised to an innings and 105 run victory over Leicestershire. James Vince’s swashbuckling double ton set up a mammoth first innings for Hampshire.
Leicestershire never recovered as Mason Crane took six wickets in the match, with Kyle Abbott collecting five for himself ensured that having been forced to follow on Leicestershire could never challenge the 612 runs Hampshire racked up.
Surrey never quite recovered from a poor first innings despite Ben Foakes best attempts with his 133 in their second innings. Ultimately though conceding that first innings lead meant they could only set Gloucestershire 228 to win on the final day.
The weather almost came to the host’s rescue but the delays were short enough that it allowed for Chris Dent, 91* and Graeme Van Buuren, 110* to power Gloucestershire to their target inside 38 overs.
It was a tough four days for the bowlers at Northampton as both sides scored over 400 in the first innings. Evergreen Darren Stevens shone for Kent with his first-innings ton but hundreds from Ricardo Vasconcelos and Rob Keough put the game in the balance.
With a result for either side looking unlikely, both sides agreed on a draw.
Tom Haines’ 155 led Sussex to 301, before Lancashire skipper Dane Vilas’ 189 runs gave his side a 106 run lead.
But a combination of weather intervening and Sussex looking comfortable in their second innings ensured no side could force a result.
Glamorgan went into day four looking to push for a victory over Yorkshire having been boosted by unbeaten centuries from Billy Root and Chris Cooke adding to their first innings total of 301.
Ultimately though they fell short, their push for victory was thwarted by 115* from Adam Lyth and 60 from Harry Brook gaining Yorkshire a draw and leaving Glamorgan cursing the day three snow in Headingley.