Despite the 18th round of the LV= County Championship being somewhat rain-affected, it still managed to produce several results that could prove critical come the end of the season.
Durham took a comfortable 27.5 point lead over Yorkshire at the top of Division One thanks to their dramatic win and the latter’s draw. They bundled Derbyshire out for a pitiful 63 in their second innings to put the home side firmly back in the relegation zone. Only three Derbyshire batsmen reached double figures as Graham Onions proved the familiar destroyer, taking five for 23. He was again given excellent support by the under-rated Chris Rushworth, who took three for 31, while Usman Arshad nipped in with a couple of cheap wickets at the end.
The home side had earlier had the better of the opening exchanges, wrapping up the Durham first innings at 325 thanks to Tony Palladino’s six for 90. However, following Derbyshire’s second innings demise, they needed just 37 in the fourth innings and knocked them off inside eight overs for the loss of Mark Stoneman.
It is now hard to see how Derbyshire can escape the drop, especially as they have played a game more than their closest rivals, and given that Somerset beat Surrey at Taunton. It was an important win for the home side as they prevailed in a tense fourth innings run chase of 133 thanks to contributions from under-fire skipper Marcus Trescothick (25), Nick Compton (24), James Hildreth (36 not out) and Craig Kieswetter (34 not out). Craig Meschede had earlier taken four wickets as Surrey’s last six second innings wickets added just 100 to their overnight 97 for four.
Yorkshire’s best efforts to force a win against Sussex were in vain and they are now distant second favourites for the title. They allowed the Sussex batsmen to feast on some declaration bowling in their second innings - Chris Nash and Rory Hamilton-Brown each made undefeated centuries - and were set 300 to win in 64 overs. Unfortunately, they faced just 20 overs before the weather intervened once more with them on 81 for two. Adam Lyth was unbeaten on 40.
Nottinghamshire slipped closer to the relegation zone as their match against Middlesex went into bonus point accumulation mode at Lord’s. They are now just nine points clear of the bottom two after picking up only two bowling points to Middlesex’s four batting ones. The home side eventually ended on 353 for seven, with Chris Rogers having made 108 and Joe Denly and John Simpson adding half-centuries. Andre Adams was the pick of the Notts attack with four for 98.
Leicestershire hung on long enough to deny Lancashire the win that would have given them the Division Two title. The home side did, however, manage to secure enough points to guarantee promotion to the top flight for 2014 thanks to Essex’s draw against Kent. Ben Raine and Niall O’Brien both passed 50 for the Foxes as they recovered from their position of 14 for three yesterday to make 329. There were also useful contributions from Matthew Boyce (38), Tom Wells (43) and James Sykes (34) - the latter two recording career-bests. Kyle Hogg and Simon Kerrigan each ended with three wickets for Lancashire.
The weather and Darren Stevens were responsible for putting the major dent into Essex’s promotion aspirations. Play didn’t get underway until well into the afternoon at Canterbury, with Stevens then hitting 67 to prevent Kent from slumping to a heavy defeat. They had lost Sam Northeast early to Reece Topley (3-70), with Geraint Jones making just 12, but Calum Haggett and Mark Davies played useful rearguards to back up Stevens’ effort. Kent eventually finished on 215 for seven in their second innings after being asked to follow-on on day two - a lead of 46 runs. Essex are now 21 points behind second-placed Northamptonshire.
Ben Cox celebrated being offered a new contract by Worcestershire by hitting a career-best 65 as their match against Hampshire petered out into a draw. He and Shaaiq Choudhry added 78 for the seventh-wicket to help their side declare on 351 for eight and deny the visitors a third bowling bonus point. Hampshire then reached 69 for two in their second innings before the draw was agreed at the earliest opportunity.
LV= County Championship Round 19 Fixtures:
(matches start on Tuesday)
Durham v Nottinghamshire at Chester-le-Street
Warwickshire v Surrey at Edgbaston
Yorkshire v Middlesex at Headingley
Essex v Glamorgan at Chelmsford
Gloucestershire v Leicestershire at Bristol
Leicestershire v Hampshire at Grace Road
Northamptonshire v Kent at Wantage Road
County Cricket News In Brief:
Durham will start each day of their next LV= County Championship match against Nottinghanshire at 1015 BST to give the visitors extra time to travel to Lord's ahead of their Yorkshire Bank 40 final. Yorkshire, unhappy at the amount of time lost to bad light in their current match against Sussex, are, according to the Daily Telegraph, thinking of following suit for their fixture against Middlesex.
The Daily Telegraph is also reporting that Derbyshire fast-bowler Mark Footitt has turned down the offer of a new contract and is believed to be interested in a move to Surrey.
Middlesex have signed left-arm spinner Ravi Patel on a new three-year contract. Patel has moved into the role of second spinner this season, with his rival for that role Tom Smith now having been released by the county.
© Cricket World 2013