On a day of contrived finishes, bore draws and calculated bonus point accumulation, there was a win for Yorkshire and tense happenings at New Road, Chester-le-Street and Grace Road as the sixth round of matches in the LV= County Championship reached an, at times, enthralling conclusion today.
Somerset’s bowlers could not quite force a win at Chester-le-Street as Durham’s brittle batting line-up did just enough to earn a draw. Ian Blackwell top-scored with an undefeated 38 for the home side as all of the top six made double figures without going on to post the telling contribution. Peter Trego and Craig Meschede prompted a few late jitters and shared six wickets for the day, but Durham ended on 234 for nine – a lead of 92 runs.
Earlier, Somerset had added 47 runs for the last two wickets to be bowled out for 267, with Craig Kieswetter left stranded on 96 after trying to farm the strike only to leave George Dockrell short of his ground.
Nottinghamshire set Middlesex an unlikely 298 to win from 51 overs at Trent Bridge, with the visitors making no attempt at the target and ending on 87 without loss from 35 overs before the teams shook hands at the earliest opportunity. On a positive note for England, Andrew Strauss ended unbeaten on 43 and Stuart Broad got through 10 relatively testing overs ahead of next week’s opening Test match at Lord’s.
Earlier, Nottinghamshire had declared their second innings on 174 for seven, with first innings heroes Michael Lumb and Steven Mullaney both passing 50.
Worcestershire’s batsmen hung on long enough to earn their side a hard-fought draw against Surrey as they ended on 150 for eight after being set 260 to win in 52 overs. Rory Hamilton-Brown and Tom Maynard had both converted their overnight fifties into three-figure scores as Surrey declared their second innings on 431 for seven after being asked to follow-on at New Road. Their bowlers – George Edwards (four for 44) in particular – then got to work and reduced the hosts to 29 for three and 100 for seven, but Matthew Pardoe displayed all his tenacity to end unbeaten on 38 from 108 balls, while David Lucas chipped in with a handy 19 from 33 balls.
Sussex and Lancashire collected eight and five points respectively from what was the last, as well as the first, day of their match at Hove. With the first three days entirely washed out, the captains opted against trying to force a result and went into bonus point mode. Lancashire won the toss and declared on 144 for eight after making a mess of trying to collect some batting points, but at the same time denying Sussex maximum bowling points, with Karl Brown top-scoring with 41 and Naved Arif taking three for 34 for the home side.
Sussex made a better fist of things thanks to a run-a-ball fifth-wicket stand of 142 between Matt Prior, who hit a fluent 86 from 80 balls, and Michael Yardy (63 from 76); while Joe Gatting smashed six boundaries on his way to a 25-ball unbeaten 42 which saw his side declare on 300 for eight.
In Division Two, Kent and Essex decided against trying to manufacture a positive result and played out the day as normal at Chelmsford. The home side, resuming on 94 for two, lost Billy Godleman to the first over of the day off the bowling of the ever-impressive Mark Davies – who ended with figures of four for 20 from 24.4 overs – and were eventually dismissed for 181 with Mark Pettini sixth man out for 92. Ivan Thomas on his Championship debut ended with two for 29, while there were three wickets for Charlie Shreck. Kent faced 28 overs in their second innings and reached 92 for two before the match was declared a draw.
Yorkshire had just enough time to reach their contrived target of 400 against Gloucestershire at Bristol. Starting the day on 30 for one, Phil Jaques and Gary Ballance both hit centuries and put on 203 for the fourth wicket to take the visitors to within 100 runs of victory, but Will Gidman struck twice to remove the former for 160 and Anthony McGrath for six. With 52 needed from 10 overs, Tim Bresnan hit 38 from 34 balls, before stumbling within spitting distance of the target, with Ballance, who ended unbeaten on 121, and Gerard Brophy (two not out) there at the end.
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