Nottinghamshire, Middlesex and Glamorgan have each made solid starts on a rain interrupted day one of the final round of Championship games.
Each of the top three in Division Two prospered on day one despite interruptions due to rain and bad light.
The leaders Nottinghamshire elected to bat first against Durham and had the best of the weather around the country, for the first half of the day. Despite the presence of Matty Potts in the Durham attack, having collected 18 wickets in the last two matches, centuries from Haseeb Hameed and Matthew Montgomery guided Nottinghamshire to 276/2 when bad light took the players off with 11.3 overs left to bowl. Durham would have expected a better return than just three Championship wins from the squad at their disposal this season and will need a good batting display to hold off Nottinghamshire this week. At the current run rate Nottinghamshire are heading towards four batting bonus and this, alongside a full set of bowling bonus points with a draw would take them to 233 points, a total that could be matched if Middlesex win and collect maximum bonus points. If the points are equal the Division winners will be Nottinghamshire as with the same number of wins and losses, the tie-breaker becomes the number of points scored in matches between the two sides. Nottinghamshire are ahead on this statistic by 26 points to 25. Obviously if Nottinghamshire win they become champions.
Middlesex chose to bowl first at Worcester in seamer-friendly conditions and took full advantage. The new ball attack of Tim Murtagh and Toby Roland-Jones is as good as any in either division and each had collected a scalp as Worcestershire were 4/2 half way through the sixth over. Each of the next four batters reached twenty, but with the ball moving around, no one could ever consider themselves set. Brett D’Oliveira produced the stoutest resistance reaching 44 from 137 balls before edging Ethan Bamber into the hands of Sam Robson and wickets continued to fall at regular intervals as each of the Middlesex bowlers tasted success. When play ended at 17:12 because of bad light Worcestershire had reached 167/8, Roland-Jones the pick of the Middlesex attack with 3/32.
At Hove, the start of the game between Sussex and Glamorgan was delayed by rain until 11:30. Glamorgan won the toss and elected to bat in a game that they have to win with maximum bonus points to have a chance of overtaking Middlesex. Shubman Gill returned to the side after missing the last game because of illness. Sussex have had problems with injuries to their bowlers throughout the season and are currently without Ollie Robinson, Steven Finn, Ari Karvelas, George Garton, Harry Crocombe and Archie Lenham, not to mention Jofra Archer. They have brought in Pakistani all-rounder Faheem Ashraf, who opened the bowling with Bradley Currie. The Glamorgan batters set out in aggressive fashion and despite the loss of Eddie Byrom for 21, David Lloyd and Gill put on 57 runs from just 73 balls for the second wicket before Lloyd was trapped lbw by Sean Hunt. Gill continued to attack the bowling and ended the day 91 not out from 102 balls, with eleven fours and two sixes. The players were on and off the field during the afternoon because of rain and bad light and when play was finally called off at 17:20 Glamorgan had reached 221/3 from the 41.2 overs that had been bowled.
After day one of this round of games Nottinghamshire and Middlesex have bolstered their position as favourites for promotion and it will take a major upset if Glamorgan are to sneak into one of the top two spots.