Woolly hats and wickets: Cricket returns for chilly County Championship opener

Northamptonshire Cricket Club wearing woolly hats in the field.
Northamptonshire's slip cordon opting for woolly hats in the field. Credit: Northamptonshire Cricket Club

Cricket's County Championship has returned - but the celebrated thwack of leather on willow might also be accompanied by one or two cries for an extra jumper.

Essex and Northamptonshire's competitive seasons both kick off today, with ambitions high but temperatures low.

At Wantage Road, Northants won the toss and opted to field first against Kent - taking to an outfield which just a day earlier had been covered in snow.

Over at Chelmsford, Essex began their defence of the County Championship by choosing to bat first against Worcestershire.

Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook was the first to fall, trapped leg before wicket for 15.

Captain Tom Westley said he was confident of an "exciting year" with his strong squad.

  • Watch a full interview with Essex captain Tom Westley.

“Everyone is raring to go for the long season ahead," said Head Coach Anthony McGrath.

“Understandably, we were only able to have a short season last time around, but we’ve now got four trophies to play for.”

Essex start with nine Championship matches before the Vitality Blast takes over.

“It gives players a lot more continuity and I think it will allow players to get in a good rhythm," said McGrath.

“As far as individuals and the team are concerned, one thing you’re looking for is for the batsman just to get a few more runs than perhaps they did last year.

"That will always help improve the team because we know the bowling takes care of itself, our bowlers are always capable of getting 20 wickets."

Aaron Beard is an early injury casualty - side-lined with a groin strain sustained in pre-season during the friendly with Kent last week.

The other absentee is Australian Peter Siddle whose arrival has been delayed by Covid protocols.