12. No. 1 in charts available for sale, including new number COUNT (c + n in out) A surface reading designed to distract the solver from the definition, ‘number’, which looks like it’s asking for an abbreviation.
13. Channel for ground grain, distance about 80 yards (or more) MILL-EYE (ley1 in mile; see lea2) A short paperchase through Chambers leads to the required lea2, a flexible measure of 80 yds. worsted to (or perhaps bested by) 300 linen.
18. Opening sought by marketing men, kind that’s hard getting in NICHE (h in nice) A great container and contents opportunity that Dr Watson hasn’t seen used before.
22. Asteroid string by the sound of it CERES (‘series’) Wikipedia notes that Ceres, the largest object in the Asteroid Belt, is now also designated as a minor or dwarf planet.
28. Alluvial deposits from lake filled round fringes DELTAS (L in sated, rev.) Some neat wordplay here, with ‘filled’ as the synonym, ‘round’ indicating the reversal and ‘fringes’ as a verb indicating the containment.
32. One among contemporaries of Auden, W. H? They’re exhausting SPENDERS (Spender, S.) There’s no A or I to insert. Stephen Spender was one of the ‘Auden Group’ of 20c. poets, including the perhaps better-remembered Cecil Day-Lewis and Louis MacNiece.
2. Road hazard mostly Scots endure after work’s reversed POTHOLE (op., rev. + thole2) ‘Mostly’ is not an instruction to shorten something. Azed is merely being true to Chambers’ designation of thole2 as ‘(chiefly Scots)’, while no doubt enjoying the consequent misdirection.
6. It’s posted by admirer, youngster that’s burning inside? PIN-UP (in in pup) Azed picks an appropriate but little-known sense of ‘in’ as an adverb meaning ‘alight’, usually in reference to a hearth fire.
9. Inspiration for heroic opera record turning up – does it culminate in bloomer? PEDICLE (El Cid EP, rev.) Another precise definition that should pass pub-quiz scrutiny. ‘El Cid’ was the Moorish appellation of the real-life Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar of Castile, the subject of Massenet’s almost-forgotten 1885 opera Le Cid.
19. Cocotte? This woman’s filled with wild lust HUSTLER (anag. in her) A nice contrast between the sentiments – or perhaps the objects of the lust – in the surface reading and the solution.
27. Example of the blues is devastating to the ears SAXE (‘sacks’) A very good homophone that eschews the temptation of the more obvious ‘sax’.
Across: 1. SPLIT CAP (split + cap); 7. APPEL (PE in anag.); 14. AMENTA (hidden); 15. THAUMATURGIST (Au in anag.); 16. COBIA (C + obia); 20. RESIDUA (r + anag. + a); 24. FRESH (serf, rev. + H); 25. AVANT-GARDISTE; 29. TROOLIE (anag. + lie); 30. VEXED (V + exed(RA)); 31. SENSE (N in sese; see sessa).
Down: 1. SCOTCH CARTS (scotch2 + T in cars); 3. LUMA (initial letters, & lit.); 4. INQUIRENDOS (n Qu in anag.); 5. CAMASS (C + amass); 8. PLAGIARISED (lag I arise in pd.); 10. EYAS (ay, rev., in (n)es(t)); 11. LETTERHEADS (letter + anag.); 13. METRICATE (m + anag.); 17. BORAZON (razo(r) in bon(bon)); 21. DERATE (hidden); 23. UGLIS (gli(b) in US); 26. VARE (anag. less l).