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Somerset Close in on First Championship Title with Vital Win

Somerset went top of the table with two games to go after they beat third-placed Yorkshire by 298 runs at Taunton. They didn’t have it all their own way, despite the overwhelming outcome. Put in to bat, the hosts were bowled out for 199, with Tom Abell making a patient 66. Keshav Maharaj did most of the damage, taking five for 54. Yorkshire had no one to replicate Abell’s effort, and they were bowled out for just 103. Abell top-scored in the second innings with 62, but there was more consistency lower down the order, and his side reached 329 all out to set an unlikely target of 426. Josh Davey ensured Yorkshire got nowhere near it, taking five for 21, as they were dismissed for 127.

Essex are eight points behind them after they drew at Edgbaston, where Warwickshire made a hefty 517 in their first innings. Matthew Lamb proved the main obstacle to the title-chasers, making a maiden century of 173. Ethan Brookes, Henry’s younger brother, made his first-class debut but was out for a duck. Simon Harmer toiled long and hard, bowling 59.5 overs to take six for 143. Tom Westley’s 143 wasn’t enough to prevent his side being bowled out for 324 and forced to follow on, Jeetan Patel taking six for 73. Westley fell three runs short of making two centuries in the match, as Essex batted out time, finishing on 158 for two.

Nottinghamshire remain rooted to the bottom of the table after they were beaten by 227 runs by Kent at Trent Bridge inside three days. The visitors batted first and Darren Stevens hit 88 from 90 balls to take his side up to 304 all out, Ravi Ashwin taking four for 121. Marcus O’Riordan hit 12 on his first-class debut. In reply, the home side could muster only 124 as the veteran Stevens again proved what an enduring talent he is, taking five for 39. Sam Billings then hit exactly 100 as Kent were bowled out for 259, Ashwin again being the most successful bowler, finishing with figures of five for 89. A target of 440 was always going to be a big ask, and when Stevens is in this form there was no chance. He picked up five for 53, to end the match with ten wickets (only the second time in his 301-match career he’d achieved that feat) and 88 runs. Currently averaging 18.66 with the ball, he is heading towards a third successive season with a sub-20 average, yet somehow Kent have decided they can let the 43-year-old go.

At Southampton, Hampshire trounced Surrey by 272 runs. The home side chose to bat first but made just 149, with Rikki Clarke taking five for 21. Ollie Pope hit 68 in the reply, but no one else made a significant contribution so their first-innings lead was only 13. Hampshire did much better in their second innings, with five players going beyond fifty as they compiled a hefty total of 436. This time Clarke went wicketless, but he did take four catches in the field. Felix Organ had taken just three wickets in his career before this game, but the off spinner picked up a career-best five for 25 in just eight overs to slice through the lower order, as Surrey were all out for 151.

In the Second Division, Lancashire confirmed their promotion with an innings and 45-run victory over Derbyshire at Old Trafford inside three days. This was despite an innings of 111 by skipper Billy Godleman as the visitors made 244. Richard Gleeson took five for 64. In his 14th match, Josh Bohannon hit a big maiden century (174) to help his side to a total of 418. Derbyshire then crumbled to 129 all out, with the wickets shared around.

Northamptonshire lead the rest of the pack after they beat Leicestershire by seven wickets at Grace Road. Hasan Azad went past 1000 runs in the Championship this summer as he hit 86 in the hosts’ total of 308, while George Rhodes made a career-best 61 not out in a little over four hours. Rob Keogh’s 132 was the central plank of Northamptonshire’s reply of 357. Eight Leicestershire batsmen were trapped LBW in their second innings, as they folded to 189 all out, setting a target of just 141 runs, which they achieved in just under 40 overs.

Gloucestershire are five points behind Northants after they were beaten by Sussex by eight wickets at Bristol. The home side made 200 in their first innings, to which Sussex replied with 370, thanks to useful contributions throughout the order, but also 60 extras as Shannon Gabriel and Ryan Higgins gave away 23 no-balls, costing 46 runs. Delray Rawlins took three for 36 as the hosts scored an inadequate 243, to leave Sussex to chase down 74 runs.

The more the season has gone on, the more Durham have thrived and they are now only nine points further back behind Gloucestershire after a 44-run victory over Middlesex inside three days in a low-scoring game at Lord’s, with Sussex two points behind them. Peter Handscomb’s 54 was the only significant innings in Durham’s first-innings total of 147, Steven Finn taking four for 41. Scott Steel made 2 on his first-class debut. Miguel Cummins may have been brought into the team for his pace, but his 22 not out was crucial in helping the home side up to 143 and near parity, with Ben Raine taking five for 26. Angus Robson hit 64, the highest score of the match thus far, against his brother’s side, while Steel had more luck in his second innings, making 39. Even so, Durham made only 191 setting a target of 196. Sam Robson went one better than his brother, but the rest of the team was blown away by Brydon Carse, who took a career-best six for 26, as Middlesex were bowled out for 151.

At Worcester, the home side beat Glamorgan by 155 runs inside three days. They compiled a modest 205, before the visitors replied with 193, Charlie Morris taking five for 73. Opener Daryl Mitchell was last man out after a terrific 139 in just under six hours proved the mainstay of his side’s total of 299. Chasing 312, Glamorgan lost both openers in the first over without scoring and never recovered and were bowled out for 156.