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Crawley Heroics Can’t Stop Somerset

While the seventh round of the Vitality County Championship may have produced many close-fought, tense outcomes, that was not the case at The Oval, where Worcestershire chose to field first and quickfire 84 from Dan Lawrence was vital to see Surrey up to a total of 213. It proved more than enough as Dan Worrall took Championship-best figures of six for 22 to dismiss the visitors for 128. With a lead of 85 to give them comfort, many of the home batters chipped in during their second innings, with Jordan Clark the top scorer, making 98. Surrey were eventually all out for 427, with debutant Yadvinder Singh Chahal taking four for 103, Dom Sibley was his first victim. Chasing 513, Worcestershire got nowhere near and were bowled out for 231. Worrall took four wickets to give him match figures of ten for 57, while Ben Gibbon was given the chance to blast his way to a career-best 75. A 281-run win inside three days was just as emphatic as it sounds, and it left Surrey 18 points clear at the top of the table.


Somerset were put in to bat at Canterbury, a decision that Daniel Bell-Drummond must have rued over the next 120.1 overs as the visitors piled up a mammoth 554 all out. Tom Banton hit a career-best 133, sharing a fifth-wicket partnership of 205 with James Rew (114, his first century of the season). Harry Finch didn’t concede a bye in the innings. Kent got off to the worst possible start, with Zak Crawley out first ball, and they never recovered, tumbling to 178 all out. The ups and downs of cricket were definitely on view when Kent followed on, as this time Crawley made a Kent-best score 238 off just 267 balls, including 31 fours and four sixes, a treat for all the home supporters who’d turned up on Sunday – perhaps some had had their prayers at the cathedral answered. In the end, Kent made it up to 564 all out, setting a target of 189, but the runs were knocked off with ease for the loss of two wickets, taking Somerset up to second in the table. The match aggregate of 1490 runs was a record in this fixture.


Warwickshire chose to bat first at Chelmsford and soon found themselves struggling at 64 for five, before Ed Barnard (with a career-best 165) led the recovery, adding 209 for the seventh wicket with Michael Burgess (108) to take them up to 397 all out. On his first-class debut, Che Simmons took three for 12, with Tom Westley his maiden wicket. New recruit Kiwi paceman Michael Rae picked up two wickets as Essex were all out for 162. Rather than enforce the follow-on the away side chose to bat again, but were skittled out for 94, with Matt Critchley taking four for 24, well supported by Sam Cook and Jamie Porter (the season’s leading wicket-takers, with 28 so far). That left Essex to chase 330 and at 112 for four it looked as though the odds were against them, but Jordan Cox (112) and Critchley (99 not out) put on 176 for the fifth wicket to turn the tide, and eventually see Essex home by four wickets – how Warwickshire must have rued that decision not to make Essex follow on, as the home side ended the round four points adrift of Somerset.


Hampshire travelled up to Trent Bridge and asked the home side to bat first, soon reducing Nottinghamshire to 50 for six. Lyndon James led a fightback, making 106 not out to help his side recover to 235 all out. Liam Dawson (95) and the returning Keith Barker (74) put on 157 for the sixth wicket, to ensure the visitors finished with a modest lead after replying with 276 all out. The hosts made 209 in their second innings to set a target of 169. At 44 for five, Hampshire looked as though they might fall well short, but James Fuller joined opener Fletcha Middleton and took the attack to the Nottinghamshire bowlers, hitting 77 not out in 97 balls to see his side to a five-wicket win.


Struggling Lancashire welcomed Durham to Blackpool and were asked to bat first. Keaton Jennings made 115 off 155 balls in front of Ben Stokes, making a rare appearance for his county, as the Red Rose reached 357 all out, with the returning Saqib Mahmood scoring 46, his best score for Lancashire. David Bedingham (101) hit his second successive century, but there wasn’t much else from the rest of his side, who were bowled out for 236, with Tom Aspinwall taking five for 41, not having bowled in his maiden appearance. Jennings (155) hit his second century of the match, before falling to Stokes, who took five for 98 – his best figures for the county since July 2018 (mind you, he has played only four games in between). When Lancashire declared on 353 for nine, it left the visitors to chase 475 for victory. A fourth-wicket partnership of 216 between David Bedingham (103) and Ollie Robinson (a career-best 171 not out) gave the visitors some hope, but there were no run-chase heroics from Stokes this time as they were dismissed for 414 (the second-highest fourth-innings total in their history) to lose by just 60 runs. The win wasn’t enough to move Lancashire off the foot of the table, but they are only 15 points adrift of Nottinghamshire in fourth place.


In the Second Division, there was a compelling low-scoring game at Hove that was finished inside three days. Yorkshire chose to field first and will have been delighted to dismiss Sussex for just 150, with George Hill taking four for 22. Joe Root’s 67 proved vital to helping his side reply with 195. Tom Alsop’s 86 was the highest score of the match, and ushered Sussex up to 227 all out, leaving a target of 183. At 158 for six, Yorkshire seemed set for victory, with Adam Lyth providing the bedrock on 73 not out. But then Ollie Robinson had him caught behind; in his following over he removed both Jordan Thompson and Dominic Leech, and then Fynn Hudson-Prentice ran out Ben Coad to win the match by 21 runs, with Yorkshire 161 all out. It was the sort of win that is the making of title-winning sides, and Sussex are seven points clear at the top.


Records tumbled at Grace Road where Leicestershire made a fateful decision to field first. Gloucestershire got off to a wonderful start, with Cameron Bancroft (160) and Ben Charlesworth (126, his maiden century) putting on 316 for the first wicket. They weren’t done with that, and Graeme van Buuren hit a belligerent 103 to help them up to 706 for six declared, the highest score in their history. Leicestershire set their own record by conceding 78 extras in the innings. Rishi Patel scored 117 in their reply, but even that wasn’t enough as the hosts were all out for 371 and they were asked to follow on. In their second innings they batted on and eventually reached 377 for seven when the game ended as a draw. In total 1454 runs were scored in the match for the loss of just 23 wickets, a game where a wicket fell for every 63.21 runs scored.


At Cardiff, Glamorgan were put in to bat and made just 183, with Tom Helm taking four for 44. Mark Stoneman’s 129 set Middlesex on the way to scoring 343 in reply. Trailing by 160, the hosts needed to fight back strongly, and in the returning Marnus Labuschagne (111) they had just the man – especially when accompanied by this season’s form batter Colin Ingram (105, his fourth century in his 752 runs this summer), as the pair added 156 for the fourth wicket. Having made 372 in their second innings, the home side had set a target of 213, and were nearly able to steal a victory as Mason Crane took five for 99, but Jack Davies and Tom Helm nudged their way to the target to secure a gripping two-wicket victory for Middlesex.


Finally at Derby, Northamptonshire decided to bat first and scored 422 all out, Rob Keogh making 102 of them. Ben Sanderson took five for 76 as the hosts replied with 362. Emilio Gay continued his fine season, compiling 153 not out as the visitors reached 310 for three declared to set a target of 371 in 83 overs. When Derbyshire were 149 for seven after 42 of them, it seemed as though it was game over, but Anuj Dal (31 in 139 balls) and Zak Chappell (72 in just 101) saw out 31.4 overs for the eighth wicket, and eventually the final pair had to survive 11 deliveries to secure the draw, finishing on 261 for nine. Despite these late heroics, Derbyshire sit bottom of the pile, eight points adrift of Yorkshire.