In the South Group, records tumbled as Kent beat Sussex in three days at Canterbury. The match seemed ordinary enough as the visitors won the toss and batted. Nine players reached double figures, Ben Brown top-scored with 98, Tom Clark hit his maiden fifty (65) and they were all out for 332. Kent’s reply got off to a strong start when their openers put on 107 for the first wicket, but it was after that that things really tipped in favour of the hosts. Jordan Cox and Jack Leaning took complete control. Cox had already passed his previous highest score of 29, went on to make his maiden century, followed by Leaning. On and on they went, as the bowlers toiled fruitlessly.
By the time the innings was closed after 120 overs, the score had moved on to 530 for one, with Cox on 238 not out off 345 balls and Leaning on a career-best 220 not out off 308 balls; 19-year-old Cox had also achieved the highest score by a Kent player against Sussex and set a new county record for the highest maiden century. Together they had put on 423 for the second-wicket partnership, a record for any wicket for Kent, and taken the county to the fourth highest total by any side losing just one wicket in first-class cricket. If the batting had been about youth, then it was veteran Darren Stevens who took control with the ball, the 44-year-old taking five for 50 to dismiss Sussex for 173 as Kent won by an innings and 25 runs. It was only the 15th time that a match in England had been won by a side losing one or fewer wickets in a game, and the first occasion since 1997.
At Chelmsford, Essex chose to bat first against Surrey and made a solid 262. Debutant Gus Atkinson struck early to remove Nick Browne. In reply, the visitors, featuring two loan signings as well as the debutant, struggled to 187 all out, with Simon Harmer taking six for 67. One of the loanees, Adam Finch of Worcestershire, picked up a career-best four for 38 to help keep Essex to a total of 261, but a target of 337 always seemed likely to be too much, and so it proved as Harmer took eight for 64 to give him match figures of 14 for 131 and to highlight his huge loss to South Africa. Surrey were all out for 167, beaten by 169 runs as Essex moved clear at the top of the table, having won both their matches this season.
Things were closer at Radlett, where Middlesex took on Hampshire. Martin Andersson hit a career-best 92 for the hosts to guide them up to 252 all out, Ryan Stevenson taking four for 70, the best figures of his brief career. Hampshire’s reply of 296 gave them a handy lead of 44 runs, despite Tim Murtagh’s four wickets. The home side found Felix Organ (four for 42) hard to play, and were dismissed for 201, leaving a moderate target of 158. Murtagh and Thilan Walallawita made it hard going, each picking up three wickets as the visitors were reduced to 108 for seven, making a home win the most likely option. But Joe Weatherley, who had made 98 in the first innings, was still there, and with Keith Barker they knocked off the required runs in under an hour to secure a hard-fought three-wicket victory.
In the Central Group, it took just two days to conclude the match at Northampton, where Somerset were the visitors, who chose to bat first. It didn’t appear to be the right decision as they were bowled out for 166, with Ben Sanderson taking five for 28. However, that score took on epic proportions as only Ben Curran (35) for the hosts managed double figures and they were shot out for just 67 in 32 overs, Craig Overton continuing his fine form with four for 12. At 53 for six, Somerset were in danger of throwing away their advantage, but Craig Overton blasted 53 in 30 balls, only for twin Jamie Overton to hit a career-best 68 in 43 balls. The Overton efforts took their side up to 222 all out. Sanderson took another four wickets, while Gareth Berg finished with four for 64, his best return for the county. Chasing 322 for victory, Ricardo Vasconcelos hit a quickfire 52, but there wasn’t much else as they slumped to 154 all out, beaten by 167 runs, Jamie Overton and Jack Brooks each taking four wickets. Somerset top the group with two wins out of two.
At Bristol, Gloucestershire were put in to bat by Warwickshire and battled their way to 210 all out in 96.3 overs, Oliver Hannon-Dalby taking a career-best six for 33. The away side replied with 247, a useful but not emphatic lead. Graeme van Buuren’s 72 in the hosts’ second innings of 275 was the highest score in the match and left the visitors with an awkward target of 239. Hannon-Dalby was again on top form, picking up six for 77 to give him match figures of 12 for 110. By the end of the third over of their run chase, Warwickshire were 4 for three and in deep trouble. There was a bit of a fightback, but Ryan Higgins took a career-best seven for 42 to give him match figures of 11 for 96, and the Bears were all out for 160, beaten by 78 runs.
At Worcester, the home side batted first against Glamorgan, with opener Jake Libby making a career-best 184, putting on 318 for the fourth wicket with Brett D’Oliveira (174), falling just 12 short of the county record for that wicket. The hosts’ innings closed after 120 overs with them on 455 for eight. Glamorgan replied with 374, Billy Root making 118. Worcestershire scored 276 for six in their second innings, setting a target of 358, but they had batted on too long, despite taking three quick wickets at the start of Glamorgan’s innings, and the visitors finished on 141 for seven after 50.4 overs. An earlier declaration from Joe Leach might have reaped greater rewards.
In the North Group, Durham lost to Lancashire inside three days at Chester-le-Street. Having chosen to bat first, the hosts were all out for 180, Alex Lees (66) making the sole significant contribution. Lancashire’s reply of 308 put them firmly in charge. Liam Hurt, in his second game, took four for 27 to help skittle out the home side for just 110, as they fell to defeat by an innings and 18 runs.
Derbyshire’s win at Leicester was almost as emphatic, and ensured they were top of the table with two wins out of two. The hosts batted first and made 199 all out, Dustin Melton taking a career-best four for 22. In reply, a Wayne Madsen century set the visitors on their way to an impressive total of 408. Ed Barnes, on his debut, dismissed Callum Parkinson and Ben Slater in the same over to pick up his first wickets at this level, but it was Matt Critchley with a career-best six for 73 who did all the damage as Leicestershire were dismissed for 220. Derbyshire lost one wicket in chasing the 12 runs they needed for victory.
At Trent Bridge, Yorkshire chose to bat first and were hugely grateful to Jordan Thompson, who came in with the score on 136 for five and proceeded to his highest score of 98 as the visitors made their way to 264 all out. Debutant Dominic Leech may have scored 0 not out, but he shared in a last-wicket partnership of 32. Nottinghamshire’s own No 7, Tom Moores, did even better than Thompson, making a career-best 106 to take his side up to 355, a handsome lead of 91. Leech’s maiden wicket was former England star Haseeb Hameed. Yorkshire’s second innings of 278 enabled them to set a target of 188, with Nottinghamshire’s skipper Steven Mullaney taking six catches in the match. Things went horribly wrong in the chase, and the home side collapsed to 97 all out, losing by 90 runs. Yorkshire also have two wins out of two.