All six of today’s matches ended in draws as the improving fortunes of the nation’s batsmen, coupled with the usual English ‘summer’ weather, meant that the bowlers enjoyed little luck on the final day of matches in the seventh round of the LV= County Championship.
The tensest of those draws was down at The Oval where Surrey closed on 239 for seven in pursuit of 305 to win against Somerset. They had showed their positive intent early on by promoting Jason Roy to the top of order – a ploy that appeared to be working when they reached 96 for one in the 25th over. However George Dockrell took three quick wickets, and Peter Trego a brace of LBWs, and the boot was suddenly on the other foot as the home side found themselves 148 for six. Fortunately for them, Rory Hamilton-Brown displayed his more cautious side and ended unbeaten on 70 from 161 balls to take them to the close on 239 for seven.
Stuart Meaker had earlier ended with figures of eight for 52 as the visitors were all out for 180 in their second innings.
Paul Horton and Gareth Cross hung on defiantly against Warwickshire as Lancashire denied the title favourites on the final afternoon at Edgbaston. The Bears would have fancied their chances of wrapping things up when Darren Maddy had Luke Procter trapped in front for 34 in the 76th over, but Horton completed his century and shared a sixth-wicket stand of 139 in 309 balls with wicket-keeper Cross (75 not out from 168 ball) to take the visitors to stumps on 343 for five and end unbeaten on 137 from 362 balls.
Worcestershire gave up on their chase of 315 on the final day at New Road after Monty Panesar had taken two middle-order wickets and James Cameron had been forced to retire hurt. They had started brightly thanks to an innings of 67 from 101 balls from Michael Klinger, but they ended comfortably short on 174 for four.
Sussex had earlier advanced their second innings score to 258 for four before declaring as Ed Joyce completed his 26th career century and Joe Gatting hit a selfless 36 from just 11 balls.
In Division Two, Hampshire closed on 191 for two in their second innings with Michael Carberry and Simon Katich both undefeated on 61 as the inevitable draw was finalised in their match against Yorkshire.
Kent and Northamptonshire both declared in an effort to force a positive result on the final day at Canterbury, but it was to no avail as the home side finished their pursuit of 262 to win on 110 for one, with captain Rob Key unbeaten on 54. Kent had earlier declared their first innings on their overnight 280 for six, while Northamptonshire declared their second on 123 without loss as both openers passed 50.
A manufactured sixth-wicket partnership of 77 from 20 balls was unable to help Leicestershire and Essex achieve anything other than a draw on the last day at Grace Road. Ramnaresh Sarwan gave Mark Pettini a rare first-class wicket falling for 98, while Ned Eckersley (70 not out from 19 balls) and Wayne White (50 not out from 12 balls) were gifted half centuries as the home side declared on 306 for five. This left Essex needing 270 to win from around 60 overs, but bad light bought the chase to a premature conclusion with the visitors on 30 for two in the 13th over.
Warwickshire spinner Paul Best shone with the bat on the second day of Cambridge MCCU's match against Gloucestershire. He hit 62 from number six as the students made 209 in reply the visitors' first innings total of 227. For Gloucestershire, Liam Norwell marked his return to the first-team with three for 47. They closed on 89 for three in their second innings.
Stat of the day: Paul Horton’s epic knock of 137 from 362 balls was the first time that the Australian-born opener had reached three figures in first team cricket for Lancashire since April 2010. Since then he had either been dismissed or left stranded in the 90s on six occasions.
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