The teams at the top of the two divisions have strengthened their positions this week with wins.
Round six saw all 18 counties in action and with wet weather around the country a number of the games were curtailed. The matches at Derby and Leicester were washed out on day one, while only Cardiff and Chester-le-Street saw a full day’s play. Despite this positive results were achieved in five of the matches, three within three days.
In Division One, Warwickshire completed their third win of the season, this time against Essex. The pace trio of Chris Rushworth, Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Hasan Ali shared 19 of the 20 Essex wickets to fall, Rushworth finishing with match figures of 8/90. Having been put into bat, Essex limped to 126 in their first innings, Tom Westley top scoring with 47. Warwickshire replied with 242, thanks to half centuries from Will Rhodes and Ali. Essex made a better job of their second innings, reaching 215, but although batting was still tricky, Warwickshire reached the target of 100 with four wickets in hand. During Essex’s second innings Sir Alastair Cook passed the impressive milestone of 26000 first class runs.
At Northampton, the home team suffered their third defeat of the season, unable to resist the Nottinghamshire pace attack, led by Brett Hutton (five wickets in the first innings) and Dane Patterson (five wickets in the second innings). Having been put in, Northamptonshire reached 86/2 when rain brought an early end to play on the first day, but on day two Hutton struck to wrap up the innings for just 158, Ricardo Vasconcelos top-scoring with 62. In reply Nottinghamshire made 255 thanks to 76 from Joe Clarke, Tom Taylor and James Sales both taking four wickets. It was then the turn of Dane Patterson to inflict pain on the Northamptonshire batters, with an opening spell of five wickets for 16 runs and they were finally all out for 72, giving Nottinghamshire a victory by an innings and 25 runs. So far this season Northamptonshire have been dismissed for less than 160 in six out of ten innings, recording just one batting bonus point and it looks like being a fight for survival in Division One for the Midlands team.
Rain took a significant amount of time out of the game at Canterbury between Kent and Hampshire. Kent were the beneficiaries having been bowled out for just 95 in their first innings, James Fuller taking 5/21. At the end of day one Hampshire had reached 89/0, but they were frustrated on day two as only 6.1 overs were possible. They finished their first innings on 373, Liam Dawson top-scoring with 84. It was left for Kent to survive the remaining 122 overs and they made a solid start thanks to half centuries from Zak Crawley and Ben Compton. When they were both out with the score on 122 and Tawanda Muyeye was dismissed for a duck Hampshire could scent a win, but the Kent batters were able to hold out and the game ended with their total on 259/4, Jack Leaning making 68 not out from 206 balls. The draw took Kent above Northamptonshire at the foot of Division One.
In the London derby the Middlesex batters made a strong start, having been put in, reaching 166/1 thanks to Sam Robson (76) and Pieter Malan (66). Gus Atkinson then removed both batters before a spell of five wickets for seven runs from Australian Dan Worrall, meant Middlesex finished on 209. In reply Surrey posted 380, Rory Burns making 88 and Jamie Smith 97. Second time around Middlesex were again pinned back by the Surrey pace attack and stuttered to 240, Jordan Clark taking 4/25. Surrey were left requiring 70 from 63 overs and reached their target for the loss of one wicket. This result maintains Surrey at the top of Division One, three points ahead of Warwickshire who look to be a strong threat, despite their capitulation to the leaders two weeks ago.
At Old Trafford, James Anderson was in action against Somerset, but it was a batter at the beginning of his career who dominated the Somerset first innings, James Rew making 105 out of 361. Matt Henry chipped in with an unbeaten half century, while Will Williams and Daryl Mitchell both took three wickets and Anderson bowled a miserly 14 overs, seven maidens, two for 16. When Lancashire came to bat it was again Mitchell who was at the forefront of their effort, making 105 and with 71 from George Balderson, they reached 326. Too much time had been lost from the game and Somerset batted out the final day, finishing on 398/5 declared, Rew scoring another century and Kasey Aldridge reached his maiden first class century. There were some concerns for England as Anderson did not bowl in the second innings having picked up an injury earlier in the match.
In Division Two, Glamorgan enjoyed a dominant performance over a lack-lustre Worcestershire outfit. David Lloyd won a useful toss and when Worcestershire batted they were soon in trouble as the dangerous new ball partnership of Michael Neser and Timm van der Gugten reduced them to 34/6. The lower order, led by Gareth Roderick (39), put up some resistance, but the Glamorgan change bowlers continued their improved performance in the last match at Leeds and Worcestershire were all out for 109, James Harris taking 4/18 and Neser 4/40. Neser showed his prowess with the bat in Glamorgan’s innings, helping them establish a first innings lead of 149. He finished with 86, Lloyd and Marnus Labuschagne contributing forties. Worcestershire put up more resistance in their second innings, with batting conditions becoming easier, but they could not resist van der Gugten, who took his third fifer of the season and they were all out for 227. Glamorgan polished off the 79 run target without losing a wicket, Eddie Byrom making 51 from just 55 balls. Van der Gugten sits second in the wicket-taking standings with 28 at 18.53, while Neser’s performances have earned him a call up to the Australian training camp prior to the World Test Championship final.
At Chester-le-Street the game went into day four with Durham needing 33 runs with two wickets in hand. Yorkshire had been asked to bat first and made 254 thanks to 44 from Shan Masood, playing his first game as Yorkshire captain, while Matty Potts added a further four wickets to his season’s tally. In reply Durham made 227, young all-rounder George Hill taking 4/43. Yorkshire ended day two on 91/3, a lead of 118 with Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow at the crease. They had the opportunity to put the game beyond Durham but both were dismissed by Ben Raine and it was left to Hill (51) to guide Yorkshire to 218, setting a challenging target of 246. Alex Lees (38) made an aggressive start, taking the score to 47 from just 9.5 overs before he was bowled by Matt Fisher. Michael Jones was more circumspect, while at the other end wickets fell steadily. Jones was the fifth man out with the score on 150, 96 runs still required. When Raine came to the crease the score was 154/6 and two wickets fell in successive balls to Jordan Thompson with the score on 173. Despite extra time being played the game went into day four with Raine and Potts at the crease. They took the target down to just two runs, but then Yorkshire took the second new ball and Hill trapped Potts lbw with his second delivery. That brought Carse out with a runner, having suffered a side strain while bowling. He edged his fourth ball down to third man and the two runs took Durham home, strengthening their position at the top of the table. Raine was the star for Durham, seeing them home with 50 not out, to go alongside his match figures of 7/95. Meanwhile Yorkshire have now gone 18 matches without a Championship win and find themselves at the bottom of Division Two.
When play finally got started on day two at Leicester, Sussex were asked to bat first and amassed a useful total of 430 thanks to 182 not out from Tom Alsop and half centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara and 19-year-old James Coles. Wiaan Mulder picked up 5/63. In reply Leicestershire reached 270 thanks to a third half century of the season for Rehan Ahmed. Aristides Karvelas and Fynn Hudson-Prentice both took four wickets. With 102 overs left in the game Leicestershire were asked to follow on and Sussex had hopes of maintaining pressure on Durham at the top of the table when four wickets fell for just nine runs on the morning of day four, to leave Leicestershire at 65/4. However, Rishi Patel, who made 100 and Mulder steadied things and by tea Leicestershire had reached 228/6, a lead of 68, with 36 overs left in the game. No further wickets fell and Mulder finished on 102 not out and Tom Scriven on 51 not out when they shook hands, with Leicestershire on 295/6. The result keeps the Foxes in second place, although this is the second game in a row that they have had to hold out for a draw.
Derbyshire hosted Gloucestershire and it was the home side that lost the toss and batted first, when the game started on day two. Their total of 251/9 declared was based around a maiden first class century from opener Harry Came. In reply Gloucestershire made 383, half centuries from Ben Charlesworth, Miles Hammond and Zafar Gohar, the wickets shared among the Derbyshire bowlers. With only 53 overs left in the game, it was just a matter of Derbyshire batting out the remainder of day four, and they finished on 166/5.
Last year’s champions Surrey maintain their position at the top of Division One with Warwickshire looking the main threat, with a 22 point gap having opened up between them and Hampshire and Nottinghamshire who sit in joint third place. In Division Two, Durham have put the disappointment of last season behind them having established an 18 point lead on the back of three wins from their five games. Sussex, Leicestershire and Glamorgan are the teams currently in contention for the other promotion spot. There is one more round of matches before the start of the Blast, although only 14 counties will be playing next week.
LV County Championship Division One
LV County Championship Division Two