Surrey regained the County Championship pennant for the first time since 2018 with a convincing ten-wicket victory over Yorkshire at The Oval. As so often at this ground, Ollie Pope led the way, hitting 136 at more than a run a ball to help Surrey to a first-innings total of 333 all out. New recruit Ben Mike managed just the one wicket, having been signed from Leicestershire. Nineteen-year-old seamer Tom Lawes took a career-best four for 31 as the visitors replied with 179 and were forced to follow on. Daniel Worrall then picked up four for 61 as Yorkshire were bowled out for 208, leaving Surrey to chase 55, which they did with skipper Rory Burns at the crease as the title was claimed. It was Surrey’s eighth win of the season, and with one game to go they are undefeated all summer, making them worthy champions.
Hampshire had been the only side with a realistic prospect of keeping the title race alive till the final round, but they were beaten by 77 runs by Kent at Southampton. Hampshire chose to field first and will have been pleased to bowl out the visitors for just 165, with Keith Barker, Mohammad Abbas and Kyle Abbott sharing the wickets between them. Matt Quinn proved unplayable in Hampshire’s reply, taking six for 23, his best figures for the county, in just 6.5 overs as Hampshire were dismissed for 57 – the lowest score of the season to date. Skipper Jack Leaning made 112 as Kent scored 269 in their second innings to set a daunting target of 378. Despite James Fuller making 78 not out, his best score for Hampshire, the hosts were all out for 300.
At Chelmsford, anyone hoping to enjoy some action on the afternoon of the second day was out of luck as by then Lancashire had won by 38 runs. The away side chose to bat first and were skittled out for 131 in 39.5 overs, Simon Harmer taking five for 41. Alastair Cook top-scored in the reply, but his 40 only helped Essex up to 107, Tom Bailey picking up five for 36. With wickets tumbling so fast, a lead of 24 seemed as though it might be significant, but when Lancashire found themselves 7 for six (the lowest score with six wickets down since 2003), they were in deep trouble. Debutant George Bell made 24 to help his side up to 73 all out, with Shane Snater taking six for 10. Chasing 98 for victory, a hat-trick from George Balderson (removing Cook, Dan Lawrence and Matt Critchley) set Lancashire on their way, but Essex were all out for 59 and Balderson finished with career-best figures of five for 14.
At the bottom of the table, Gloucestershire recorded their first win of the summer when they beat Warwickshire by three wickets at Bristol. Dom Sibley carried his bat for 120 out of the visitors’ 274. Zafar Gohar took five for 64. Gloucestershire hit back with 255, Jayant Yadav picking up five for 90. With the match in the balance, Tom Price took complete charge of the game, with a career-best eight for 27, the best figures of the summer. Warwickshire were all out for 128, leaving the hosts to chase 148. Yadav (four for 47) made sure it wasn’t easy, but 64 from Chris Dent and 49 from Graeme van Buuren were the key factors as the home side edged their way to victory.
Finally, at Taunton Somerset emerged with the largest victory (by runs) of the season, beating Northamptonshire by 352 runs. Skipper Tom Abell led from the front with 111 out of Somerset’s total of 389. Craig Overton took five for 38 as the away side replied with 265 all out. Abell (115) then completed his second century of the match, while Tom Lammonby also reached three figures (110) as they declared on 337 for four, setting a target of 462 for victory. Northamptonshire’s line-up was swept away for just 109.
At Worcester, Nottinghamshire’s march to the Second Division title was interrupted when they lost by an innings and 79 runs after they chose to field first. Gareth Roderick (102) hit his second consecutive century after he came in at 99 for five to help his side up to 390 all out. In reply, the away side were skittled for 128, with Dillon Pennington taking four for 31 and Ed Barnard picking up four for 26. Following on, only Haseeb Hameed (58) made a decent contribution as Nottinghamshire were bowled out for 183.
Middlesex closed the gap at the top to just nine points after they beat Leicestershire by 80 runs at Grace Road. John Simpson top-scored with 92 at the visitors reached 297 all out, Michael Finan taking his first five-fer, finishing with figures of five for 58. The hosts replied with 294 to keep the match in the balance. Max Holden’s 91 was the key contribution in Middlesex’s second innings of 271, enabling them to set an achievable target of 275. But only Colin Ackermann (80) made a major contribution, as Toby Roland-Jones took four for 50, and the home side were all out for 194.
Glamorgan are a further nine points back from Middlesex after their innings victory over Derbyshire at Sophia Gardens. It was all started by skipper David Lloyd, who made 313 not out in 398 balls, scoring an unbeaten 203 in the first day and making 184 runs in boundaries. It was the second highest score in the county’s history, behind Sam Northeast’s 410 not out earlier in the summer. On his first-class debut, Thomas Bevan added a patient 48, and Glamorgan declared on 550 for five, with Brooke Guest not conceding a bye in the innings. Adam Sylvester, making his first-class debut, will find easier circumstances to bowl in the future, ending wicketless. A sixth-wicket partnership of 145 between Harry Came (65) and Anuj Dal (92) helped Derbyshire up to 253 but couldn’t save the follow-on. Ajaz Patel took five for 68. Derbyshire’s second-innings total of 273 wasn’t enough. In his final game at Cardiff, Michael Hogan took three wickets in the match.
Durham comprehensively dismantled Sussex at Chester-le-Street. The visitors were put in to bat and were bowled out for just 162, with debutant Charlie Tear scoring a decent 26, as the wickets were shared among the bowlers. Four of Durham’s batters reached 80, but none got to three figures, as they replied with 459 for seven declared. Ben Raine then ripped through the top order, dismissing three, four and five all LBW for ducks. Sussex were all out for 157, beaten by an innings and 140 runs.