Durham were crowned County Champions amidst the showers on another rain-hit day in the LV= County Championship’s 19th round. Elsewhere, Northamptonshire and Essex advanced their promotion hopes, while Surrey contrived to set up a run chase at Edgbaston.
Durham were made to wait by the Chester-le-Street weather but wrapped up the victory over Nottinghamshire that sees them crowned 2013 LV= County Champions. Play eventually got underway at 1.30pm after a lengthy rain delay, with Mark Stoneman sealing the win less than an hour later by hitting Paul Franks for four. The hosts lost two wickets to Harry Gurney shortly before crossing the winning line, but that won’t take any of the gloss off what is their third title in six years.
It marks a remarkable turnaround by the club since Paul Collingwood took over from the sacked Phil Mustard midway through last season as the county faced relegation. Under Collingwood’s leadership, they won five of their last six games to avoid the drop. He has now led a team of largely home-grown players to the title and has had to contend with plenty of problems along the way. The biggest of those was undoubtedly the heart attack that struck down their head coach Geoff Cook in midsummer. He has since recovered and is back at work. The club also endured their fair share of injury problems during the season - including one that saw batting lynchpin Dale Benkenstein sidelined for much of it - but they always seemed to have a never-ending supply of young players - Usman Arshad and Jamie Harrison to name just two - to step in.
The bowling attack has been the key to their success, with the defining statistic of the season that they have conceded only one batting bonus point whilst playing at home. Graham Onions has led the attack with typical aplomb, and has been ably supported by the under-rated Chris Rushworth. They have been backed up well by Usman Arshad, Jamie Harrison, Ben Stokes and Scott Borthwick.
Elsewhere, just 30 overs were possible at Headingley, with Yorkshire closing on 130 for five to take a lead over Middlesex of 212 going into the final day. The hosts lost two wickets early - one apiece to Corey Collymore and Tim Murtagh - with Gary Ballance and Andrew Gale then doing the bulk of the run-scoring during a fifth-wicket stand worth 79. Gale fell shortly before stumps for 40, but Ballance is still there on 53 off only 59 balls.
Surrey and Warwickshire have decided to make a game of it at Edgbaston as the former look to escape relegation. The Bears need 226 more to win after closing on 55 for two in their fourth innings run chase. Chris Tremlett and Stuart Meaker have a wicket apiece, with Varun Chopra (0) and Ian Westwood (14) the men gone. Surrey had earlier declared their first innings at its overnight 400 for five, gifted Chopra and Westwood 120 runs before forfeiting their second innings to set up the run chase.
In Division Two, Essex closed a truncated day three at Chelmsford on 240 for two in reply to Glamorgan’s 322. Jaik Mickleburgh, unbeaten on 68 overnight, completed his sixth first-class century and ended on 124 not out. He put on an unbroken 108 with Owais Shah for the third-wicket. Shah finished on 59 not out.
Only nine balls were bowled on the penultimate day at Grace Road, with Hampshire progressing to 364 for two against Leicestershire.
Gloucestershire closed on 90 for three after Lancashire had declared on 310 for eight at Bristol. Glen Chapple, Oliver Newby and Kyle Hogg took a wicket apiece, while Alex Gidman top-scored for the home side with 21 not out.
Northamptonshire made the most of the 47 overs that were bowled by Kent at Wantage Road. They closed on 183 for one in reply to the visitors’ 418. Openers Stephen Peters and James Middlebrook put on 136 before Peters was caught off Mark Davies for 68. That was to be Kent’s sole success as David Sales (25 not out) joined Middlebrook, who ended just 13 short of his century.
day four, LV=CCD1, Warwickshire v Surrey at Edgbaston
day four, LV=CCD1, Yorkshire v Middlesex at Headingley
day four, LV=CCD2, Essex v Glamorgan at Chelmsford
day four, LV=CCD2, Gloucestershire v Lancashire at Bristol
day four, LV=CCD2, Leicestershire v Hampshire at Grace Road
day four, LV=CCD2, Northamptonshire v Kent at Wantage Road
Weather Forecast: Tomorrow will be mainly overcast with only occasional sunny spells, but at least it should be dry. Temperatures will peak at around 17 degrees Celsius.
County Cricket News In Brief:
Lancashire have announced that they will not be offering opening batsman Stephen Moore an new contract when his current one expires at the end of the season. Coach Peter Moores said, “Through a lack of opportunity in four-day cricket (he has not appeared in a Championship game since June), it has been decided to allow him to look for opportunities elsewhere.”
Middlesex have signed 19 year-old Ealing CC fast-bowler Harry Podmore on a maiden professional contract. Podmore has been with the Middlesex Academy since 2011 and spent this year with the MCC Young Cricketers. He has signed until the end of the 2015 season.
Northamptonshire all-rounder David Willey has turned down approaches from other counties to sign a three-year contract extension with the club. Willey may yet return from a back injury to play in the final game of the season if Northants still need a substantial amount of points to secure promotion, coach David Ripley told the Northampton Evening Telegraph.
Ryan Sidebottom has signed a one-year contract extension with Yorkshire, committing himself to the club until the end of the 2015 season.
Nottinghamshire seamer Jake Ball has been ruled out of the Yorkshire Bank 40 final with a back injury.
© Cricket World 2013