In the Central Group, Somerset controlled the match at Taunton against Gloucestershire after they were put in to bat. George Bartlett made an unbeaten 100 while David Payne and Ryan Higgins both took four wickets as the hosts were bowled out for 237. In reply, the visitors were skittled out for just 76, with Craig Overton continuing his fine form taking four for 25. Having taken his maiden wicket, Tom Lammonby then followed it up with his first century, making 101 not out in 167 balls, with his skipper Tom Abell finishing on the same score, as the pair put on an unbeaten 211 for the second wicket before Abell declared on a total of 223 for one. With a target of 385, the away side had more than two days to get the runs but they collapsed again, dismissed for just 70 to lose by 314 runs, their second heaviest defeat by Somerset, having lost by 343 runs back in 1923. Craig Overton took five for 26. The win not only took Somerset top of the table, with 76 points they are the best placed county in the country.
At Northampton, Glamorgan were put in to bat and the decision by Ricardo Vasconcelos looked vindicated when the visitors were reduced to 135 for nine, but what followed in the next 56 minutes was extraordinary as debutant Callum Taylor raced to his century in just 88 balls, eventually finishing on 106. With Michael Hogan, he put on 124 for the tenth wicket to take them up to 259. Earlier in the innings, Joe Cooke had made his county debut, scoring 18, after previous experience with Durham MCCU. Brett Hutton took four wickets, while Jack White had career-best figures of four for 48. Charlie Thurston’s 115 was the main feature of Northamptonshire’s reply of 332.
Glamorgan slumped to 60 for eight in their second innings, as Jack White improved his career-best analysis with figures of four for 35 to complete a fine third game. Then came an extraordinary turnround in a little under 20 overs as Dan Douthwaite (averaging just 8.33 this season) was joined by Marchant de Lange. Together they put on 168 for the ninth wicket, scoring at more than eight an over. De Lange dominated, going on to make a career-best 113 in just 78 balls, hitting nine sixes along the way. He reached his hundred in just 62 balls. This left Northants with a target of 189, and Emilio Gay’s unbeaten career high of 77 ensured there were no alarms as they won by six wickets.
At Worcester, Warwickshire were put in to bat and Will Rhodes dominated proceedings, batting all the way through to the end of the 117th over of the 120 permitted. Rhodes made a superb career-best 207 in the total of 355 for nine declared, with Charlie Morris taking five for 80. An opening partnership of 177 between Daryl Mitchell (110) and Jake Libby (84) set the hosts on their way to an impressive reply of 410 for seven, but there was only time for the visitors to reach 68 without loss in their second innings when the match ended as a draw. Worcestershire are just six points behind Somerset, and the only county in the group who can deprive them of a place in the Bob Willis Trophy final when they meet in the final round.
Just 66 overs were possible in the first two days in the Roses match at Leeds, where the home side batted first. Adam Lyth was the main stalwart of the innings, eventually scoring 103. George Burrows made his debut for the visitors, with Harry Brook his maiden victim. Yorkshire were all out for 260 on the third day, and Lancashire’s reply had reached 195 for five when the last day was washed out.
There was a bit more action in the first two days at Chester-le-Street where Derbyshire put Durham in to bat. A seventh-wicket partnership of 157 between Ned Eckersley (78 not out) and Paul Coughlin (90) set Durham on their way to a decent total of 337 for nine declared. Luis Reece hit 122 in Derbyshire’s reply of 355 for four, but again no play was possible on the final day, so the match ended as a draw. Derbyshire (with 71 points) top the group, five ahead of Yorkshire.
At Leicester, the home side were put in to bat by Nottinghamshire and after a flurry of early wickets they recovered to make a total of 222, Ben Mike scoring 51 not out, his best for the county. An opening partnership of 200 between Ben Slater (86) and Haseeb Hameed (87) put the visitors on top, and they declared on 343 for eight. Leicestershire had reached 237 for four in their second innings when the game also ended in a draw.
In the South, Sussex lost to Middlesex in three days at Radlett. The visitors chose to bat first and compiled an adequate total of 293, with handy contributions all the way through the order. Blake Cullen, making his first-class debut, dismissed Tom Clark to pick up his maiden wicket on the way to figures of two for 51. In reply, Middlesex made just 203, with Sussex’s debutant William Sheffield accounting for Max Holden. Jack Carson took a career-best four for 46 with his off-breaks. It all went wrong for Sussex in their second innings when five for 34 from the evergreen Tim Murtagh sent them tumbling to 102 all out. Chasing 193, Middlesex lost five wickets, four falling to Ollie Robinson, as they were seen home by a sixth-wicket partnership of 63 between Martin Andersson and John Simpson.
The Oval saw the narrowest victory of the summer as visitors Kent sneaked home. Put in to bat, the away outfit scored 342, which included a handy 25 from debutant Nathan Gilchrist, batting at No 10. Matt Milnes equalled his career-best score of 43. Ben Foakes reminded everyone of his ability with the bat, as well as the gloves, making 118 in Surrey’s reply of 278. Kent then stumbled to 127 all out against the combination of Sam Curran, with four for 39 on his return from England duty, and five for 20 from Rikki Clarke. With a target of 192, the home side were favourites, but that was to forget the evergreen Darren Stevens, who picked up three wickets in his first 13 deliveries and finished with four for 41, and Milnes (four for 57) who removed the tail, just as it appeared Foakes (57) might see his side home. Surrey were all out for 174, losing by 17 runs.
Group leaders Essex finally failed to win a match as they were held to a draw at Arundel against Hampshire, though the real winner was the weather as just 78 overs were possible in the match. Put in to bat, Essex had reached 249 for three by that point, with Sir Alastair Cook on 129 not out. Essex (70 points) still top the group, six points ahead of Kent.