Worcestershire will be playing Championship cricket in Division Two next year, after defeat to Durham by three wickets at Chester-le-Street.
While a win was not mathematically necessary with one game still left to go, Worcestershire gave themselves every chance with a double declaration, but were left sunk as Durham chased down 291 on the fourth day.
Resuming on 42/0 this morning, the visitors made their intentions clear in bludgeoning their way 217 for nine in just 34 overs to jangle a few nerves on the south coast.
Worcestershire’s bid for ten wickets began well, with Shannon Gabriel trapping Jack Burnham leg before in just the second over, but for the second time in the match, Scott Borthwick proved a thorn in the Pears’ side, following up his 73 in the first innings with 99 from 121 balls to steer Durham to the win.
Borthwick was ably supported by an unbeaten 65 from Michael Richardson, while Paul Collingwood (47) also made his mark as Durham inched home with three wickets to spare – relegating Worcestershire in the process.
Declaration gamble backfires for Hampshire
Seeing Alex Lees walk out to bat would far from been a surprise for those at the Ageas Bowl this morning, but for those oblivious to the booming announcement of the tannoy, Lees’ partner would have been a certain surprise.
Adam Lyth was Lees’ partner, out in Yorkshire’s first innings, but walked to the crease for the fourth morning with his side having declared their innings and Hampshire subsequently chasing theirs in a bid for victory and the huge points reward to go with it. The chase was on.
The news of Hampshire’s gamble – and perhaps Yorkshire’s charity – reverberated sourly to the south coast and Sussex and Somerset, particularly when Lees, Lyth and Gary Ballance all fell before 40 runs were on the board.
But Yorkshire – and the spirit of cricket – were saved with Andrew Gale’s superb 125, while Jack Leaning made 76 in a partnership of 190 in 50 overs with his skipper to break the back of what was starting to look like a tricky chase.
Neither batsmen remained to see the job out, but despite Fidel Edwards’ three wickets, the champions – who gained a record season points haul in the process – made it home by five wickets to spare at the Ageas.
For Hampshire, a brave effort has left their bid for survival all the more difficult, with a win against Nottinghamshire next week a necessity, while hoping other teams do them favours with further results and bonus points.