Surrey extend their lead at the top of Division One, while Worcestershire move into the second promotion spot in Division Two.
As Championship cricket takes another break, this time for the Hundred and the One Day cup, in Division One Surrey have increased their lead over second-placed Essex to 17 points. Surrey took care of Somerset inside three days. Somerset chose to bat first at Taunton and 20-year-old Tom Lawes removed three of the top four, as the home side were dismissed for 170. Lawes finished with 4/41 and Tom Kohler-Cadmore top-scored with 59. In reply Surrey made 368, Tom Latham and Will Jacks both falling one run short of centuries. Matt Henry took 6/80. Half centuries from James Rew and Craig Overton helped Somerset to 226 in their second innings, but Surrey were left with a target of just 29. Rew’s 55 runs saw the 19-year-old move past the 1000-run mark for the season.
Essex kept up the pressure on Surrey with victory against third placed Hampshire, on a pitch at the Rose Bowl that appeared set up for a result, as both sides sought to challenge Surrey. Asked to bat first, Hampshire were dismissed for just 120, Jamie Porter taking 5/37. Essex were marginally more successful when they came to bat, reaching 169 and it did not get any easier as Hampshire were dismissed for 131 second time around, Porter taking his second five-wicket haul of the game. Nick Gubbins provided the main resistance, making 45 from 123 balls. Essex reached the target of 83 for the loss of four wickets, before lunch on day three. The loss sees Hampshire fall 48 points behind leaders, Surrey.
Warwickshire remain with a game in hand on the teams above them, but suffered a surprise defeat to Middlesex this week at Edgbaston. Toby Roland-Jones won an important toss and was the first of the bowlers to take advantage of the conditions as Alex Davies gloved a lifting delivery from the Middlesex skipper. Warwickshire were dismissed for just 60, their lowest total since 1982, Ethan Bamber taking 5/20. In reply, 53 from Ryan Higgins was key to Middlesex reaching 199, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Mir Hamza and Ed Barnard each finishing with figures of 3/49. By the end of day one Warwickshire were two down in their second innings. On day two, Sam Hain (69) and Dan Mousley (58) dug in for the home side, posting 110 for the fourth wicket. However, four more wickets for Bamber helped dismiss Warwickshire for 232, leaving Middlesex a target of 94. They reached this for the loss of two wickets, Mark Stoneman finishing on 52 not out. The win moves Middlesex above Kent and with a game in hand, gives them breathing room in their fight for survival in Division One.
Kent suffered their seventh loss of the campaign, this time to Nottinghamshire. They have been hit hard by injuries and alongside players who are unavailable, they are currently without 10 potential first team players. They have recruited batters Toby Albert & Ben Geddes on loan and re-introduced Alex Blake to red ball cricket, having been on a white ball only contract since 2020. They are also on their third choice keeper, with Harry Finch taking the gloves for this game in the absence of Sam Billings and Jordan Cox, the latter having just announced a move to Essex at the end of the season. Despite losing the toss, it was the Nottinghamshire batters who had the best of day one, reaching 275/5. Ben Slater made 100, while Tom Moores finished the day on 72 not out. He went on to make 94 as Nottinghamshire reached 350, 20-year-old Jaskaran Singh taking 4/87. Harry Finch (73) was the main contributor to Kent’s first innings total of 316, 25-year-old leg spinner, Calvin Harrison taking 4/28. Half centuries from Ben Slater (87), Will Young (87) and Joe Clarke (73) took Nottinghamshire to 372/6 declared in their second innings, setting Kent a target of 407 from 72 overs. While this was not a realistic chase, a draw was within Kent’s compass, but they lost three wickets in the eight overs bowled before lunch. It took less than 14 more overs for the Nottinghamshire seamers to finish the job, Brett Hutton taking 4/44 and Dane Patterson 5/41, as Kent were dismissed for 85. They will be hoping that their casualty list has improved by the time Championship cricket returns.
In the remaining Division One fixture, Lancashire had the better of a drawn game at Old Trafford against bottom club Northamptonshire. Electing to bat first, Northamptonshire were able to treble their tally of batting bonus points this season as they reached 342, Emilio Gay making 144 and Luke Procter scoring 75. It was then the turn of the Lancashire batters to play some “Bazball” as they amassed 544/7 declared from just 106 overs. Luke Wells (119), Josh Bohannon (128) and Phil Salt (105) all posted centuries. When Lancashire declared three overs into day four, Northants were left to face a minimum of 91 overs. It was predominantly a trial of spin delivered by Lancashire’s two left armers, Jack Morley and Tom Hartley, but the Northant’s batters were up to the task and the teams shook hands with the visitors on 213/5. The draw keeps both teams in the bottom half of the table, with Northants firmly rooted at the bottom.
In Division Two the runaway leaders Durham were unable to make any significant addition to their points tally, as no play was possible over the last two days of their game against Yorkshire at Scarborough. Having been asked to bat first, Yorkshire posted 340, Adam Lyth reaching his third century of the season. Ben Raine and Matty Potts both took four wickets. In reply, Durham had made 106/1 before the weather intervened, Alex Lees passing 50 for the eighth time this season. He remains the Championship’s highest run scorer with 1152 at 72.0.
At Derby, Glamorgan’s batters prospered against the Derbyshire bowling attack, the visitors declaring on 521/8 off 118 overs, Colin Ingram reaching his first century of the season. The Derbyshire openers found conditions equally hospitable as they took the score to 165, before Harry Came was dismissed for 65. Luis Reece went on to make 131, but the Glamorgan bowlers fought back and the last seven wickets fell for just 44 runs, the innings finishing just after tea on day three. Leus du Plooy added 41 runs to his season’s tally, taking him to 1022. With a deficit of 203 runs the follow on was enforced and Came and Reece took full advantage of the now benign pitch and tiring Glamorgan attack. They were able to bat out the rest of the game, with Derbyshire finishing on 360 without loss when the teams shook hands. Came reached 141 and Reece 201. Glamorgan took maximum bonus points and temporarily moved up into second spot.
The final game took place at Cheltenham College and was a day behind the others. It saw Worcestershire complete their second consecutive win and establish themselves firmly in second place behind Durham. Worcestershire were put in to bat and despite three ducks from the top four batters, posted 406. Brett D’Oliveira made 90 and he was grateful to the lower order for keeping him company, as Matthew Waite made 64 and Josh Baker 75. Gloucestershire then reached 301 thanks to a century from Oliver Price. Going into their second innings with a 105 run lead, a century from the bat of Jake Libby and 62 more runs from Waite allowed Worcestershire to declare on 316/8. Paul van Meekeren took a maiden first class fifer to go with his four wickets in the first innings. This left Gloucestershire to bat out the 96 overs of the final day and at lunch they were 106/3, with Miles Hammond on 35 not out. He went on to make 64, but wickets continued to fall and survival hinged on the Taylor brothers. They put on 95 for the eighth wicket off 26.5 overs, but when Jack Taylor dragged on a ball from Dillon Pennington for 95 the writing was on the wall. The last wicket fell with 8.5 overs left and the score on 311, still 110 runs behind. Pennington finished with 4/63 and Adam Finch 4/83, while Matt Taylor was left stranded on 45 not out.
Surrey and Essex have increased the gap between themselves and the rest at the top of Division One and it now seems unlikely that the 2023 Champions will not be one of these two counties. Essex have the slightly easier run in with games against Middlesex and Northamptonshire, but Surrey have been consistent performers. The win this week for Middlesex has boosted their chances of survival, sitting with a game in hand over Kent and it looks like being one of these two sides that will be relegated alongside Northamptonshire.
Durham remain well clear at the top of Division Two and another win for Worcestershire sees them move ahead of their challengers for the vital second place. The ability to win matches is key to accumulating points and the fact they have done so on four occasions, while the teams below them in Division Two have been drawing games, could carry them through to promotion. Sussex will be far more likely to start winning games if Ollie Robinson becomes available for their final four matches.
Current Championship tables:
LV County Championship Division One
LV County Championship Division Two