The race for the title remains closely-contested at this early point in the season. Second-placed Warwickshire endured a day to forget at Taunton, while Sussex and Nottinghamshire did their hopes no harm with good displays against Surrey and Derbyshire. In Division Two, Northamptonshire are on course to open up a big lead at the top, with Hampshire odds on to move up to second following their anticipated win against Worcestershire.
Nottinghamshire rammed home their advantage on the third day in Derby. James Taylor completed his century as the visitors extended their first innings to 443 - a lead of 187 runs. Derbyshire then closed on 143 for five in their second innings. Billy Godleman and Wes Durston departed cheaply to Luke Fletcher and Harry Gurney before a stand of 83 between Shivnarine Chanderpaul (57) and Wayne Madsen (47). Unfortunately both fell before the close, as did Ross Whiteley, to leave the home side still trailing by 44 runs.
Graeme Smith ended ominously on 43 not out off just 46 balls at The Oval as Surrey closed on 66 for one in their second innings. They do, however, still trail by 109 runs after Sussex had prolonged their first innings to a mammoth 526. Luke Wells turned his sixth first-class century into his maiden double-hundred and took his overnight third-wicket partnership with his captain Ed Joyce to exactly 200. Joyce departed two shy of his century, but Matt Prior joined Wells and dominated a fourth-wicket stand of 91 by blasting 62 off only 45 deliveries. Contributions from Rory Hamilton-Brown (39), Ben Brown (23) and Chris Jordan (23) then followed as Sussex went past 500.
Somerset reached the halfway point of their match against county champions Warwickshire in a commanding position. They closed on 46 for one in their second innings after earning a huge 248-run first innings lead. First Jos Buttler completed the third first-class century of his career to help the home side to maximum batting bonus points in making 406. Then they dismissed Warwickshire for just 158. None of the Bears batsmen got going, with Rikki Clarke’s 31 the highest score, as a batting line-up that has occasionally looked fragile imploded. Alfonso Thomas ended with three wickets, while there were two each for Jamie Overton and Jack Leach.
Durham are in a good position against Yorkshire after setting them 336 for victory. Openers Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings finally provided Durham with a solid start and added 123 at the beginning of their second innings. Jennings was caught behind off Tim Bresnan for 48, but Stoneman completed his century, while Dale Benkenstein made 61. The home side declared their second innings closed at 275 for four, with Yorkshire then reaching stumps on 17 without loss to set up an intriguing final day.
In Division Two, Lancashire enjoyed an excellent day against Kent, but the draw still looks the likely result at Old Trafford. Karl Brown and night-watchman James Anderson began a day dominated by the bat by taking their third-wicket stand to 62. Anderson’s resistance was finally brought to an end by Charlie Shreck when he was on 26, but Ashwell Prince joined Brown and the pair put on a further 93. Brown gave Shreck his second wicket when on 87 and Prince his third when on 58, but Simon Katich came in and upped the tempo. He closed on a fluent 93 off 134 balls, having shared 138 with Steven Croft (47 not out) for the sixth-wicket. Lancashire closed on 356 for five to lead by 112 runs going into day four.
Northamptonshire shouldn’t have to work too hard for victory tomorrow against Gloucestershire in Bristol. The home side reached stumps in their second innings on 280 for nine - a lead of only 68 runs. There were half-centuries from three Gloucestershire batsmen - Chris Dent, Alex Gidman and Benny Howell - but Northamptonshire’s versatile bowling attack kept chipping away. Overseas signing Trent Copeland and left-arm seamer David Willey each took a wicket, while there were three each for seam bowlers Andrew Hall and Steven Crook.
Daryl Mitchell ended on 71 as Worcestershire fought to stave off defeat against Hampshire. They couldn’t extend their first innings past 206 and were asked to follow-on. Regular wickets meant that they reached stumps on 153 for five with the deficit still standing at 141 runs. The wickets were shared around among the Hampshire attack, with Chris Wood, James Tomlinson, Danny Briggs, James Vince and Liam Dawson taking one each.
The MCC universities finally got their maiden win against a first-class county in 2013, with Leicestershire the vanquished side at Grace Road. They were chasing a not impossible 238 to beat Leeds/Bradford MCCU but crumbled for just 135. Shiv Thakor again top-scored, though this time only with 35, as the home side lost a steady stream of wickets. James Lee removed both openers, while Luis Reece worked his way through the middle-order. The all-rounder followed up his century yesterday by taking four for 28 as the students won by 102 runs.
Middlesex successfully defeated Cambridge MCCU as expected. They declared their second innings on its overnight 132 for three thus setting the students an unlikely 414 for victory. They began well thanks to a 69-run opening stand between skipper Zafar Ansari and James Johnson. However, Johnson’s dismissal for 22 started a collapse of 10 for 110 runs. Ansari was sixth man out for 72 to James Harris (two for 29) but it was the Middlesex spin twins of Ollie Rayner and Ravi Patel that caused the bulk of the problems. Patel ended with five for 69 with his left-arm spin, while Rayner took three for 38.
day four, LV=CCD1, Derbyshire v Nottinghamshire at Derby
day four, LV=CCD1, Durham v Yorkshire at Chester-le-Street
day three, LV=CCD1, Somerset v Warwickshire at Taunton
day four, LV=CCD1, Surrey v Sussex at The Oval
day four, LV=CCD2, Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire at Bristol
day four, LV=CCD2, Hampshire v Worcestershire at Southampton
day four, LV=CCD2, Lancashire v Kent at Old Trafford
Weather Forecast: Tomorrow will be similar to today, with sunshine for most and temperatures peaking at around 10 degrees Celsius. There will be occasionally heavy showers, confined mostly to the south-east.
County Cricket News In Brief:
Dan Redfern has received a reprimand after committing a level one breach of the ECB’s disciplinary code during the LV= County Championship match between Middlesex and Derbyshire.
West Indies batsman and IPL sensation Chris Gayle has give Somerset first refusal on his services for this season’s Friends Life t20 according to the club’s chairman Andy Nash. Gayle was due to play for Somerset in last year’s competition but backed out after being picked by the West Indies.
© Cricket World 2013