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Essex Close Gap on Surrey after Dramatic Away Day at Blackpool

After their defeat against Lancashire, Surrey looked to get back to winning ways against Nottinghamshire at The Oval. Batting first, they made 355, with Jordan Clark top-scoring (107). Lyndon James was the main threat, taking a career-best six for 74, while Tom Moores took six catches behind the stumps. For Nottinghamshire, Kiwi Test star Will Young made his debut for the county, and became the 13th player to make a century (145) for them in his maiden game. He helped the visitors up to 399 in reply, while Tom Latham took five catches. Four Surrey batters passed fifty as they made 340 in their second innings to set a target of 297, while Brett Hutton took five for 91. With Nottinghamshire’s score on 118 for one, and Dom Sibley having come on to bowl, the game ended in a draw.


Just 28 deliveries were possible on day one of Lancashire’s game against second-placed Essex at Blackpool, but the game still ended in a thrilling climax. A fifth-wicket partnership of 155 between Tom Westley (135) and Paul Walter (76) was the centerpiece of Essex’s first innings total of 282, with Tom Bailey doing most of the damage, taking six for 59. Five ducks in Lancashire’s reply told its own story, as they were rolled over for just 145, with Sam Cook taking four for 42. Essex then piled on the pain, as Dan Lawrence blasted nine sixes in his 135 – with Doug Bracewell (who made 61 of them), he added 106 in just 35 minutes (53 balls) for the ninth wicket. Essex declared overnight on 292 for eight, leaving Lancashire to chase 430 on the final day. They made a brave effort of it, Rob Jones scoring 111, but with the score on 383 he was last man out with just ten balls of the match remaining. The win moved Essex to within 13 points of leaders Surrey.


At Taunton, Somerset chose to bat first against third-placed Hampshire and were soon reduced to 80 for five, with Sean Abbott taking four of the wickets and being responsible for a run out with the other dismissal. James Rew and Kasey Aldridge (88) then steadied the ship with a stand of 188, with Rew going on to make the sixth century of his career (only Dan Lawrence has scored as many in the Championship while still a teenager) and his fifth this summer – the 19-year-old is gaining more plaudits with every match right now. Somerset gave a debut to Alfie Ogborne and signed up former player Dom Bess on loan from Yorkshire. But it was Rew who stole all the headlines, eventually making a career-best 221 (the youngest double centurion in Somerset’s history) before he was the last man out, having added 108 for the last wicket with Shoaib Bashir (whose 44 not out featured three sixes) to take them up to 500 all out. With 952 runs for the season, he is the leading runscorer in Division One. At 152 for eight in reply, Hampshire looked down and out, only for Felix Organ (97) and Kyle Abbott (89 not out) to put on 177 for the ninth wicket. It wasn’t enough to avoid being forced to follow on, as they were all out for 330. Ogborne’s maiden wicket was the vital one of James Vince. In the end, Hampshire relied on a 100-run eighth-wicket partnership between Nick Gubbins and Liam Dawson to earn their draw, the pair taking 47 overs to make their runs as the visitors finished on 215 for seven.


Despite Kent choosing to bat first at Canterbury, they were bowled out for just 171 by Warwickshire, though even that was a recovery from 95 for eight. The visitors overhauled that score for the loss of just two wickets, and it probably didn’t reassure the Kent bowlers that Glenn Maxwell was still to bat. Rob Yates, who came into the match averaging a touch under 25 for the season, put that right by making a mammoth career-best 228 not out off 421 balls, as his side compiled a total of 549 for seven declared. Maxwell hit 81 off 67 balls, but Henry Brookes scored even faster, making his 52 not out in 37 balls. Kent had it all to do to avoid an innings defeat, but Oliver Hannon-Dalby picked up his second four-wicket haul of the match to help dismiss them for 332, meaning they’d lost by an innings and 46 runs inside three days. Warwickshire now stand third in the table, ten points behind Essex, but with a game in hand.


At Northwood, Northamptonshire chose to bat first but managed just 219 runs. T20 specialist Justin Broad was given his first-class debut and scored a patient 31 off 78 balls. In reply, Middlesex made 277, Ryan Higgins top-scoring with 64 not out. Sam Whiteman then compiled 114 as Northants moved into a strong position and they were bowled out for 380 very early on the final day, leaving Middlesex 92 overs to chase 323. For much of the day, it was about avoiding defeat as Middlesex made steady progress, while the visitors kept on picking up wickets. Sam Robson remained, though, and when Joshua De Caires came in at No 9 there were six overs remaining and 40 required. The pair whittled down the target, and the last over began with 10 needed, and off the final delivery Robson needed three, but could make only two as the match ended in a thrilling draw, with the scores level – it was the first such occasion in the Championship since 2001, and a first for Northants since 1963 (on the day when it was announced that former scorer, 83-year-old Tony Kingston had died, it was appropriate for the game to have thrown up a statistical landmark). Robson’s innings of 126 not out was the first century made by any Middlesex batter this summer.


In the Second Division, leaders Durham hosted Gloucestershire, who chose to bat and made a solid-enough 316, Chris Dent top-scoring with 85. South African fast bowler Migael Pretorius made his debut for Durham and picked up the wicket of Oliver Price. Durham’s reply was dominated by Alex Lees, who added 195 for the fifth wicket with Graham Clark, and eventually fell for 195, his highest score for Durham and his third consecutive century. Pretorius hit 39 in 29 balls, and Dominic Goodman took a career-best four for 73, but it wasn’t before Durham had made 453 in reply. Miles Hammond (86) played a lone hand as the visitors were dismissed for just 188 in their second innings, with Matthew Potts taking a wicket in each of his first three overs; he would finish with four for 55, giving him 43 wickets for the season to date – more than anyone else. Durham had just 52 to chase for victory, which they did for the loss of one wicket to wrap up the game inside three days.


There was no play on the first day at Cardiff, before Leicestershire chose to field first, and then managed to bowl just 17 overs on Day Two. Things moved forward quickly on the third day as Michael Neser made 176 not out, his fourth and highest century in his career. Fellow Australian Mitchell Swepson was also in the runs, scoring his maiden first-class fifty (69) in his 82nd innings. Glamorgan declared on 403 for nine, leaving themselves a day and seven overs to bowl out the visitors twice. With Rishi Patel making a career-best 179, they didn’t even manage to do it once as Leicestershire finished on 451 for six, the draw moving them into second place, a distant 47 points behind Durham.


Sussex were put in to bat at Hove by bottom side Derbyshire, and an opening partnership of 150 set them on their way to a hefty total of 402, despite a career-best five for 49 from George Scrimshaw, who polished off the tail. Brooke Guest’s 105 was the bedrock of the away side’s reply of 407, but there were plenty of other useful contributions. While Sussex might have hoped to pile on the pressure, Alex Thomson struck four times before the third day was over, and so the hosts were grateful to James Coles for his century, which ensured an intriguing final day’s play was in prospect. Coles went on to make a career-best 180 to push his side up to 384 for nine declared, while Thomson finished with his best Championship figures of five for 110. Needing 380 for victory in just 58 overs, skipper Leus du Plooy brought Derbyshire right into the frame with his 128 off just 117 balls, taking him to 979 runs for the season – more than anyone else. In the end, it was just too much to ask and they finished on 361 for eight, with both sides feeling a win was almost in reach. The match aggregate of 1554 runs was the sixth highest in both counties’ history.


At New Road, Worcestershire chose to field first, but in a rain-affected start to the game Yorkshire made the early running, putting on 177 for the first wicket. Finlay Bean’s 135 was his third century of the summer and the highest score of his career, as he helped his side to a very useful total of 407. South African Test star Ryan Rickelton, on his Yorkshire debut, made just 6. Adam Finch took five for 100. It’s rarely a good sign when your No 11 top scores, but that was Worcestershire’s fate, with Ben Gibbon making a career-best 41 not out to push his side up to 242 all out, whereupon they were forced to follow on. Ben Coad took five for 33, tipping his career average marginally under 20. Now 29, he is unlikely ever to gain international honours, but there are few more effective bowlers on the county circuit. Rain restricted the final day to just 39 overs of play, so Worcestershire were able to finish on 142 for two.