The County Championship came to a dramatic climax in the final round. At Liverpool, Lancashire chose to field first and asked Hampshire to bat, bowling them out for just 143, with Matt Parkinson taking three for 9 in 11.2 overs. At 47 for seven in reply, the Red Rose were in deep trouble but Steven Croft (40), Luke Wood (37) and Tom Bailey (23) saw them up to 141. Mohammad Abbas took five for 48. Hampshire’s second innings also got off to a poor start, as they fell back to 24 for four, but skipper James Vince (69) and Liam Dawson led a fightback that took them up to 193. Bailey finished with a career-best seven for 37. At 151 for four, the target of 196 seemed well in sight, but then Mason Crane took over, spinning his way through the lower order. But Dane Vilas remained in place and his unbeaten 47 saw his side through to a one-wicket win inside three days.
That result meant all eyes turned to Edgbaston where Somerset had chosen to field first. Warwickshire manoeuvred into a strong position on 261 for three before losing a flurry of wickets, until Danny Briggs hit a 31-ball 53 not out to see them up to 367. Craig Overton took five for 88. Somerset hit back with 389. By the end of the third day the hosts were 179 for one, leaving skipper Will Rhodes with a tricky decision on the timing of his declaration on the final day, knowing that only a win would do. His batsmen responded in blistering fashion on the last morning, adding 115 in 15 overs, with Rob Yates finishing unbeaten on 132 as they declared on 294 for three. Somerset’s batting never got to grips with the target of 273 and they were bowled out for 154 in just 52 overs. Warwickshire were champions again for the first time since 2012.
Meanwhile Nottinghamshire ended up in third place, half a point behind Lancashire, after they beat Yorkshire by five wickets at Trent Bridge. Joe Clarke’s 109 was the centrepiece of their first-innings total of 296. Yorkshire were then blown away for just 73, with 19-year-old Joey Evison taking four for 13. Luke Fletcher took three for 31 to take him to 66 wickets for the summer (at a remarkable average of 14.90), five more than second-placed Ollie Robinson. Adam Lyth stepped up in the crisis as Yorkshire followed on, scoring 153 to help his side up to 396, setting a target of 174, which Ben Slater (79 not out) saw the hosts achieved without undue alarm.
Essex took just two days to confirm their position as Division 2 champions as they trounced Northamptonshire by an innings and 44 runs at Chelmsford. Sam Cook’s five for 21 ensured the visitors made just 81 in their first innings. Essex’s reply of 170 was hardly spectacular, as the away side’s opening pair nipped with eight wickets between them. But Sam Cook then went one better, taking five for 20, as Northamptonshire were truly humbled, all out for 45. It was their lowest total since 1946 and their equal worst against Essex (they also made 45 against Essex at Southend in 1923, when Johnny Douglas took 11 wickets in the match).
Gloucestershire also took just two days to beat Durham at Bristol as they confirmed second place. The away side chose to bat first, but made only 140 as Zafar Gohar took five for 50. The hosts replied with 218, despite a career-best five for 78 from Liam Trevaskis. Gohar proved even trickier to play in the second innings, taking six for 51 to complete an excellent stint at the county. His wickets ensured Durham made just 131, leaving a target of only 54 which was achieved for the loss of three wickets.
There was an end-of-season runfest at The Oval, where Surrey and Glamorgan played out a draw on a batsman’s paradise of a pitch. Glamorgan had first use and made a mammoth 672 for six declared, the third highest first-class score in their history – but still only their second highest score at The Oval (they made 702 for eight declared, back in 2009). David Lloyd set the tone with a career-best 121, but it was skipper Chris Cooke who really enjoyed himself, making 205 not out, his maiden double century.
Anything the Welsh side could do, the hosts could better. First of all, opener Jamie Smith made a career-best 138, then Hashim Amla (163) and Ollie Pope (a career-best 274) put on 362 for the third wicket. Surrey finished on 722 for four declared, the second highest total Glamorgan have ever conceded. It was Surrey’s third highest total, and their best since 1909, when Jack Hobbs and Ernie Hayes both scored double centuries. All 11 players bowled for Glamorgan – the first time that has happened in the Championship since 2016, and the fifth time this century. The match aggregate of 1394 for ten, meant the overall average per wicket was 139.40, the fifth highest in first-class history. Hamish Rutherford’s 36 was the lowest score made by any batsman to be dismissed.
At Canterbury, Kent recorded a close victory over Middlesex to finish top of Division 3. At 121 for two, the away side seemed to be going well, but the dismissal of Mark Stoneman meant the last eight wickets fell for just 26 runs, Darren Stevens finishing with four for 21. Tawanda Muyeye top-scored in Kent’s reply, as his 30 helped his side up to 138. Stoneman hit 109 to lead his team up to 363, setting a formidable target of 373, despite Matt Milnes taking five for 87. A fifth-wicket partnership of 172 between Ollie Robinson (112) and Muyeye (a career-best 89) put the hosts on track, as they eased home by two wickets.
Worcestershire finished third when they beat Leicestershire by ten wickets at New Road. The visitors scored 222, before the home side hit back with 422. George Rhodes then made the highest score of the match (90) but it wasn’t enough to get his side beyond 211, leaving the hosts chasing just 12 for victory, which they did without loss. Daryl Mitchell, appropriately enough in his final game after 17 seasons at the club, was at the crease when the win came. Wicket-keeper Sam Bates made his debut for Leicestershire, scoring 0 and 6 – he was one of just 36 to taste first-class cricket for the first time this summer.
In the wooden-spoon match, Derbyshire beat Sussex by nine wickets at Hove, as the hosts face a crucial winter of rebuilding to give their young squad some experienced support. Veteran Wayne Madsen hit 111 as Derbyshire made 465 in their first innings, despite Henry Crocombe taking a career-best four for 92. Ben Brown’s fine late-season form continued, as he hit 157. Despite six players making ducks, Sussex still reached 300 in reply but they were forced to follow on, and in their second innings the fact Brown became their seventh duck did not help. They reached 187 to set a target of 23, which took just 22 balls to reach. Skipper Tom Haines made 18 and 26 in the match, taking him up to 1176 runs for the summer – the leading runscorer, 72 ahead of Jake Libby.