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How England's Ashes hopefuls fared in County Championship

How England's Ashes hopefuls fared in County Championship
© Reuters
Places are up for grabs in England's Ashes squad.

The opening week of the Specsavers County Championship featured a smattering of England's current Test players and those who are hoping to force their way into the reckoning for an Ashes spot later this summer.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at how those players fared.

Root v Broad

Joe Root and Stuart Broad squared off in County Championship action
Joe Root and Stuart Broad squared off in County Championship action (Simon Cooper/PA)

The headline act took place at Trent Bridge where England Test captain Joe Root and second highest all-time wicket-taker Stuart Broad squared off.

Yorkshire needed Root to stand up after a big first-innings total from Notts had put the White Rose on the back foot. Root duly delivered, with a gritty 73 in the first innings to steady the ship and an unbeaten 130 in the second to lead his county to a draw.

There were concerns for the England skipper late on day three when he was hit on the hand in the field, but the blow was not as serious as first feared. He was also hit on the helmet by a Broad bouncer with his first delivery faced in the second innings.

As for Broad, the 32-year-old will be fairly pleased with his first outing of the season, claiming three wickets in the first innings.

Who pressed their claims?

England's batting over the winter has left the door wide open for batsmen all over the country to try and force their way into the Test side. A whole host of potential top-order players have shone in the opening week.

None more so than Joe Clarke, who has long been tipped as a potential England player. The Nottinghamshire man, signed from Worcestershire at the end of last season, notched a century in the first innings before being marooned on 97 as Notts declared ahead of the final day against Yorkshire.

The 22-year-old put a difficult winter behind him after he was stood down for the England Lions' tour of India after his alleged involvement in a WhatsApp group that was part of the evidence used in former Worcestershire team-mate Alex Hepburn's rape trial.

Fellow new Notts signings Ben Duckett and Ben Slater both stood out at the top of the order – with former Test cap Duckett delivering knocks of 43 and 61.

At the Ageas Bowl, James Vince has made the decision to open for Hampshire this season to attempt to reclaim his Test spot in a position which appears up for grabs.

James Vince impressed for his 40
James Vince impressed for his 40 (Adam Davy/PA)

An elegant 40 in the first innings was his only knock of the match after Hampshire forced Essex to follow on in a thumping innings victory.

Vince was overshadowed by team-mate Sam Northeast's superb 169. The 29-year-old, who underperformed after joining from Kent last season, has been on England's radar for some time and will have caught the eye this week.

Dawid Malan, whose last Test came back in August, started with an unbeaten 160 for Middlesex at Northamptonshire.

Cook to return?

Big runs for Essex will lead to inevitable questions around Alastair Cook's return
Big runs for Essex will lead to inevitable questions around Alastair Cook's return (Joe Giddens/PA)

Sir Alastair Cook insists he will not return to England's Test side after retirement, but big runs for Essex will lead to inevitable questions all season long for the Three Lions' record Test run-scorer.

A half-century in the first innings was a strong start, although just eight runs came in the second.

Where are the rest?

Keaton Jennings' form over the winter has left his place in doubt
Keaton Jennings' form over the winter has left his place in doubt (John Walton/PA)

Due to a staggered start to the season, a whole crop of England players are not in action until later this week.

Incumbent opener Keaton Jennings will require an impressive season for Lancashire if he is to hold on to his spot. He begins that bid when the Red Rose head to Lord's to face Middlesex on Friday – with James Anderson, who is hoping to play a chunk of matches for his county this season, also in that side.

Reigning county champions Surrey begin their title defence by hosting Essex at the Oval. Rory Burns, Ben Foakes and Jason Roy – if he has recovered from a hamstring injury – are all expected to feature in that clash.

The rest of England's current Test players are away at the Indian Premier League. Jonny Bairstow continues to shine while forming an impressive opening partnership with Australian David Warner.

And all-rounder Sam Curran has been a standout star, including an unlikely promotion to open the batting as well as a hat-trick against Delhi Capitals.

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