There were just six games played in Round Six of the County Championship, and for most of them the weather proved something of a problem. In Group 1, Essex were put in to bat at Chelmsford and took full advantage. First of all, Nick Browne (59) and Alastair Cook (58) added 137 for the first wicket, before both men fell in quick succession. Tom Westley (106) and Dan Lawrence (152 not out) then put on 221 for the second wicket, with Lawrence in unstoppable mood once he reached three figures, enabling Westley to declare on 412 for three. Simon Harmer then took control, as so often, the spinner taking a career-best nine for 80, the 13th best analysis for the county and the best since 1995 when Mark Ilott took nine for 19. Derbyshire were all out for 146 and forced to follow on.
In the second innings, Derbyshire showed more resilience, and the wickets were spread more evenly among the bowlers, but they still succumbed for 251 to lose by an innings and 15 runs. Ryan ten Doeschate, with three in each innings, took six catches in the match, and Harmer finished with match figures of 12 for 202. He moved up to second place in the leading wicket-takers this summer (with 31, one behind Craig Overton of Somerset). The result took Essex to the top of the group (on 76 points), three ahead of Durham and Nottinghamshire, both of whom have played one game fewer, with just nine points separating the top five.
At the Riverside, Worcestershire chose to field first and Alex Lees fell one short of a century as Durham made 246, with Josh Tongue taking five for 39. Chris Rushworth struck back with five for 56 to ensure the visitors made just 213 in reply. Will Young (103) made his second century in successive matches, which was backed up by Jack Burnham’s unbeaten 102 as Durham made 389 for five declared so set the away side a target of 423. An opening partnership of 79 was no sort of precursor of what was to come, as Worcestershire crumbled to 164 all out, giving Durham the victory by an emphatic 258 runs. David Bedingham’s scores of 24 and 33 moved him up to 624 runs for the season, 86 ahead of Adam Lyth of Yorkshire.
Chris Rushworth picked up another four wickets, the first of which (Jack Haynes) took him to 528 for the county, the most by any player, overhauling Graham Onions’ record. He began his career back in April 2010, when he went wicketless against Yorkshire. Mark Wagh of Nottinghamshire would eventually be his first victim, falling on the first ball of the third day’s play on 12 May 2010. It wasn’t until June 2012 that he took the first of his 28 five-wicket hauls. His best figures of nine for 52 came against Northamptonshire in September 2014, and he followed it up with a further six wickets in the second innings to claim a county record match analysis of 15 for 95. After 134 games for the county, his 531 wickets have come at an average of just 22.38 – a remarkable achievement, and he can consider himself unlucky never to have secured international recognition.
In Group 2, Hampshire put Middlesex in to bat at Lord’s, and Kyle Abbott took six for 44 as the hosts were dismissed for 172. Hampshire were struggling until Keith Barker came in and made his highest score for the county, 84, to take them up to 208 in reply. Abbott continued his fine work, taking five for 41 to give him match figures of 11 for 85, as Middlesex fell away to 101 all out, leaving Hampshire to chase 66, which they achieved late on day three for the loss of three wickets.
Meanwhile at Taunton just 68 overs were possible, by which time Surrey had reached 206 for four as the match ended in a rain-drenched draw. The result ensured Somerset stayed in second place, four points behind Gloucestershire, who have played one game fewer.
In Group 3, Kent made the short journey to Hove and were put in to bat. Jack Leaning’s 63 was the only significant contribution to Kent’s 145, with Zimbabwean Old Eastbournian Tawanda Muyeye making his debut and scoring just 1. Sussex’s reply of 256 put them in charge, but Kent did much better in their second innings, with Zak Crawley making 85 as they reached 220 for three by the close of the third day. Leaning, who had scored just 22 runs in six innings in rounds two to four, continued to enjoy himself on his way to his sixth first-class century, finishing on 127 not out, while Muyeye was 12 not out with the score on 387 for four when the match ended as a draw.
At Sophia Gardens, Glamorgan were put in to bat and stumbled to 149 all out. Yorkshire replied with 230, Joe Root scoring 99. Wicket-keeper Harry Duke made his first-class debut but was out first ball, one of five to fall to Michael Neser. Glamorgan had reached 164 for four when the match ended as a draw. The result took Yorkshire five points clear of Lancashire at the top of the group, but they have played one game more than the Red Rose outfit.