County Championship: Players mark 'first ball of new season' at home

County Ground, Taunton
Somerset's home at Taunton was one of six county grounds empty because of the coronavirus

Sunday 12 April, 11:00 BST, should have seen the start of the 2020 County Championship.

The coronavirus pandemic may have delayed the new season, but that did not stop players and cricket followers from enacting the first ball despite isolating at their own homes.

Some of the playing surfaces might not have found favour with the England and Wales Cricket Board's pitch inspection panel - but needs must in the current situation.

A simple leave, roughing up a rookie opener and a cracking canine catch were among the early highlights on social media.

Sussex skipper Ben Brown was determined to things the right way by donning a natty striped blazer for the toss - although it appeared the opposition were being captained by the Invisible Man.

Kent and England batsman Joe Denly can bowl some useful leg-breaks but his opening delivery found some unexpected bounce and seemed to ruffle the feathers of the young batsman.

If you told Warwickshire seamer Oliver Hannon-Dalby a couple of months ago that he would be starting the season bowling at his dog, he might have given you the sort of look which normally follows an edge through the slip cordon.

Despite meticulously setting his field, the four-legged opener defended the stumps with ease - without even needing to use the bat.

The first ball of a new season is a special moment in itself - there does not always need to be drama.

Somerset skipper Tom Abell was clearly playing the long game. Sometimes just getting your bat out of the way and letting the ball fly past is the best strategy at the start of an innings.

Meanwhile, away from the first-class cricket scene, an early wicket fell at a ground which surely has the shortest boundaries in the world....

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