There was high drama in both of the day’s concluding LV= County Championship matches, with Yorkshire almost pulling off the unthinkable against Somerset and arch rivals Lancashire doing just that against Essex. Elsewhere, Ryan Buckley marked a memorable debut by dismissing a Graeme Smith-less Surrey for just 237 on day one at The Oval.
There was much tension, but ultimately a draw, on the final day at Headingley as Somerset finished on 61 for six in their second innings - still 192 runs adrift of Yorkshire’s 505 for nine declared. Somerset’s first innings had been brought to a close at 252 as Tim Bresnan (four for 76) and Steve Patterson (two for 46) ensured that the last five wickets added just 62 runs. The home side then enforced the follow-on, but with little realistic hope of forcing a victory. However, Jack Brooks decimated the Somerset top-order, removing Nick Compton (0), Alviro Petersen (4), James Hildreth (12) and Arul Suppiah (0) in the space of 8.1 overs. Unfortunately, he was forced to withdraw from the attack due to a finger injury shortly after dismissing Suppiah, but Patterson picked up where he had left off. He took two quick wickets before time ran out with Marcus Trescothick standing firm on 33.
Warwickshire’s batsmen made up for the failings of their weakened bowling attack by reaching stumps just 12 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on on the third day against Middlesex. Middlesex declared their first innings at its overnight 428 for five, with the county champions then replying with 267 for five. There were fifties from Laurie Evans, who retired hurt with a fracture in his left hand on 59, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Tim Ambrose, while Corey Collymore was the pick of the Middlesex bowlers with three for 38.
Durham closed on 48 without loss after dismissing Surrey for 237 on day one of their fixture at The Oval. 19 year-old off-spinner Ryan Buckley took five for 86 on debut, while Scott Borthwick took two with his leg-spin. Callum Thorp had started the fall of wickets by removing openers Rory Burns and Jason Roy early on his way to eventual figures of three for 29. Arun Harinath (53) and Vikram Solanki (38) then rebuilt the innings with a stand of 61, with Steven Davies (57) and Zander de Bruyn (52) then adding 84 for the fifth-wicket. It was then over to Buckley, who dismissed last man Gary Keedy for duck to end with five wickets and be the chief architect of a Surrey collapse of six for 16.
In Division Two, Ned Eckersley hit his third first-class century as Leicestershire closed strongly in reply to Worcestershire’s declaration on day three at New Road. The home side allowed Thilan Samaraweera to complete his maiden century for the club and then called their first innings to a halt at 320 for seven in the 110th over. Leicestershire openers Michael Thornely (17) and Niall O’Brien then added a cautious 51 at the start of their first innings, while O’Brien and Eckersley added a further 55 for the second-wicket. O’Brien was bowled by Moeen Ali for 46, but Ramnaresh Sarwan (46 not out) joined Eckersley and the two batted through until stumps and put on a further 123.
Gloucestershire breezed past Hampshire’s first innings total of 274 and closed day three at Bristol on 284 for two. Hampshire captain Jimmy Adams had completed the carrying of his bat for 138 at the start of the day as Craig Miles removed James Tomlinson in the third over. Gloucestershire captain Michael Klinger then responded with an undefeated century of his own - his second in as many matches - and added 119 with Chris Dent (45) for the first-wicket, 109 with Dan Housego (56) for the second, and 56 and counting with Alex Gidman (38 not out) for the third.
Lancashire pulled off a thrilling win over Essex to follow up their one against Glamorgan. They successfully chased down their target of 253 against the clock, knocking off the runs with a single ball to spare. There was drama on the winning delivery itself as former Lancashire bowler Sajid Mahmood dropped Wayne White to allow them to scamper through for the winning single. The previous over, Reece Topley had taken three wickets to keep Essex’s hopes alive, but ultimately Graham Napier was unable to defend five from the final over.
Lancashire’s run chase had begun badly as they lost both openers with only 13 on the board. However, Karl Brown and Ashwell Prince both hit 80 off 105 balls and added a crucial 169. Simon Katich (26 off 21 balls) and Steven Croft (28 off 16) then added cameos prior to Topley’s triple-strike which took the game down to the wire. Earlier, Essex had sportingly declared their second innings at its overnight 203 for three after the first session was lost to rain. Both teams were deducted a point for a slow over-rate, meaning that Lancashire take 18 from the match and Essex just three.
Kent were comfortable winners of their Group A Yorkshire Bank 40 match in Deventer as the Netherlands got their campaign off to a dismal start. They were inserted by Kent skipper James Tredwell and were bowled out for just 101 with only four men reaching double figures. Matt Coles claimed two early wickets and helped reduce them to six for three before a brief stand by Dom Michael (20) and Daan van Bunge (18) led a recovery of sorts. However, Tredwell and Darren Stevens blew away the middle-order and returned combined figures of seven for 41 from 14.1 overs. Pieter Seelaar top-scored for the Dutch with 26. Kent then lost Sam Billings in the second over of their run chase as the first of three wickets for debutant Paul van Meekeren, but won by seven wickets in less than 23 overs as Brendan Nash ended on 45 not out.
Sussex got their first win of the Yorkshire Bank 40 by having much the better of a rain-affected Group A clash against Northamptonshire. The Sharks were reduced to 12 for three early on by Trent Copeland and David Willey (one for 43), but Chris Nash and Ed Joyce led a recovery. The pair added 173 for the fourth-wicket before both fell just short of centuries. Copeland then returned to the attack and restricted Sussex in the death overs, ending with five for 32, as they finished on 215 for seven.
Northmaptonshire never got going in their run chase and were not helped by a break for rain at 78 for four in the 20th over. By the time rain arrived for the second time, they were 122 for nine in the 27th over and were adjudged defeated by 61 runs on the Duckworth Lewis-method. Steven Crook top-scored with a cameo of 25 off 19 balls, while Chrs Jordan and Chris Liddle each took three wickets for Sussex.
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