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Fletcher Fires Nottinghamshire to the Top

Group 1 league leaders Warwickshire took on Worcestershire at Edgbaston and were put in to bat. They made steady progress, with a second century of the summer from Rob Yates (104) and a first for the county from Michael Burgess (101) helping them to a total of 343. Worcestershire’s reply was similarly stately, and when the third day was washed out a draw seemed inevitable. Thanks to the in-form Ed Barnard, who made 76 not out, things quickened up on the final day as the visitors declared on 364 for eight. There was just time for Warwickshire to make 70 for three before the game ended in a draw.


The other game in the group offered more drama, as Essex were put in to bat at Trent Bridge. Stuart Broad will have enjoyed getting his old England captain Alastair Cook caught behind for 3, but it was Luke Fletcher who dominated as he took a career-best six for 24 to shoot Essex out for 99, as the champions’ shaky start to the summer continued. Skipper Steven Mullaney bettered that total himself, making 117, but Nottinghamshire’s dominance could have been even greater were it not for Shane Snater’s career-best figures of seven for 98, which kept the hosts down to 323 all out.


Trailing by 224 runs on the first innings, Essex reached 129 for three by the close of day two, but the rain prevented any play on the next day, giving them a chance to save the game. The final seven wickets tumbled in 26.2 overs on the final day, as Nottinghamshire completed back-to-back victories, winning by an innings and 30 runs. Unsurprisingly, it was a former pupil of Oakham School who did the most damage; however, it wasn’t Broad but Lyndon James, who picked up a career-best four for 51. The win took them top of the table, six points clear of Warwickshire.


In Group 2, leaders Gloucestershire continued their excellent early-season form when they beat Middlesex by seven wickets at Lord’s inside three days. The hosts were put in to bat and they needed an unbeaten 76 from Robbie White to see them up to 210 all out, while David Payne took five for 31. The visitors replied with 273, but Payne then went one better in the second innings, taking six for 56 to give him match figures of 11 for 87 (his first ten-wicket match haul), to bowl out Middlesex for 152. Gloucestershire’s target of 90 was comfortably achieved, and they ended the fifth round 13 points clear of Somerset.


Grace Road proved a friendly home for batsmen, with Leicestershire scoring 496, thanks to centuries from Sam Evans (112, his third hundred of the summer), Marcus Harris (101, his first for the county) and 103 for Harry Swindell, his maiden three-figure score. In the lower order, Ben Mike hit career-best 74. Meanwhile Amar Virdi took six for 171 for Surrey. Their reply got off to a strong start, reaching 146 without loss, but the third day was lost to the weather, ensuring a draw was inevitable. Mark Stoneman went on to complete his century (119), but the last ten wickets fell for 160 as Surrey were bowled out for 324 as the game ended. Chris Wright had another good match, taking five for 60.


At the Rose Bowl, Hampshire’s topsy turvy season continued when they were put in to bat and then skittled for just 79 by Somerset, Lewis Gregory taking four for 26. Craig Overton (74) top scored in the visitors’ reply of 336, while Keith Barker picked up four for 67. Overton continued his fine game, taking the first four wickets to fall as Hampshire struggled to 110 for four, and the home side were grateful that less than ten overs were possible on day three. Overton finished with five for 66, which took him to 31 wickets for the summer, three ahead of Gloucestershire’s Ryan Higgins. Meanwhile, Josh Davey nipped in with five for 30 off 24 overs. Keith Barker made a defiant unbeaten 52 to take his side up to 258 all out, ensuing they avoided an innings defeat, but Somerset’s target of 2 was achieved after one delivery.


With only 128 overs played in the first three days at Old Trafford, Group 3 leaders Lancashire were unable to reinforce their position against Glamorgan, who scored 344. James Anderson, on his return to county action, took three for 40 off 24 miserly overs. Lancashire replied with 301 for nine declared, as the match ended in a draw, which was enough to hold on to top spot, seven points ahead of Yorkshire.


Sussex lined up with two former Bede’s School pupils, including debutant Joseph Sarro, who joined Delray Rawlins in action at Northampton. Neither player scored a run as the away side stumbled to 106 all out, but it could have been worse as they were 25 for seven before Ollie Robinson made an unbeaten 49. Ben Sanderson (five for 28) and Gareth Berg (five for 18, his best figures for the county) did all the damage. Saif Zaib more than doubled his previous highest score as he hit 135 in Northamptonshire’s reply of 441 for nine declared. Sarro dismissed Ricardo Vasconcelos with his fifth ball in first-class cricket. Robinson took five for 58. Sussex were 154 for four at the close of day two as they struggled to save the match, but the next day was lost to the weather, giving them a glimmer of hope. However, the last six wickets fell in little more than 20 overs. Sanderson completed ten wickets in the match, finishing with five for 71, but Gareth Berg was deprived of a ten-wicket haul when Tom Taylor took the final wicket, Berg finishing with four for 72. Sussex were all out for 215, as Northamptonshire won by an innings and 120 runs.


At Headingley, Zak Crawley’s 90 was the main factor in Kent’s first innings of 305, before Gary Ballance led Yorkshire’s reply. He was run out for 96 early on the final day, while Nathan Gilchrist took his first four wickets of his career, at the cost of 74 runs, as Yorkshire hit back with 321, whereupon the game ended as a draw. Adam Lyth’s 23 took him to 538 runs for the summer, still 29 short of David Bedingham of Durham, who weren’t in action this round.