Newly crowned champions Surrey took on Lancashire at Old Trafford and plunged to their first defeat of the summer – by an innings and 130 runs. Keaton Jennings made 199 (his fifth century of the season, with his 1233 runs in 11 matches – the most by any Division One batter – coming at an impressive average of 72.52 to push his cause for an England recall). George Balderson hit a career-best 97 as he rounded of the campaign in style, helping his side up to 512 all out, Dan Moriarty taking five for 163. Surrey were then bowled out for 209 and, following on, made 173, with Tom Hartley taking a career-best five for 52. Lancashire’s win pushed them up into the runner’s-up spot.
Lancashire thus headed Hampshire by one point, after they were beaten by 5 runs in a thrilling match at Edgbaston. With much of the first two days lost to bad weather, Warwickshire, who needed to win, declared on 272 for four, with Rob Yates making 104. James Vince (98) and Keith Barker (76) saw Hampshire up to 311 in reply, but when Hampshire dismissed the hosts for just 177 in their second innings, they seemed odds-on to win, chasing just 139, a result which would have relegated Warwickshire. No one told Liam Norwell that this was a problem. He had picked up four wickets in the first innings, and now he bowled the spell of his life to take nine for 62, the best figures of his career and of the season. By the end, Hampshire needed 6 runs and Warwickshire needed two wickets – and Norwell got them both to spark huge celebrations among the Midlanders, who know they will need to be better in 2023.
Their celebrations meant there was dejection at Yorkshire, who fell short by 18 runs to Gloucestershire at Headingley. There was justifiable anger among White Rose fans that the ECB had withdrawn Joe Root from the match; he was pictured playing golf with Piers Morgan instead. Yet again, one might question the ECB’s commitment to their own premium product. Already relegated Gloucestershire chose to bat first and made 190, with Matthew Fisher taking four for 45. Yorkshire replied with 183, succumbing to Zafar Gohar, who picked up five for 40. A sixth-wicket partnership of 122 between Oliver Price (68) and Jack Taylor (67) helped the visitors up to 233, setting a target of 241. It would have been the perfect circumstance for Root, but instead Yorkshire ended up relying on Dom Bess to nudge them ever closer to their target. Steven Patterson, in his final game for the county, joined Bess with the score on 191 for nine, and bravely battled on for more than 40 minutes, before falling with the score on a Nelsonian 222. With just one win all summer, it was perhaps inevitable they would drop a division.
At Canterbury, Somerset chose to bat first, but only Lewis Goldsworthy (94) made much of an impression as they were bowled out for 202, with Nathan Gilchrist taking a career-best six for 61. Tawanda Muyeye missed out on a maiden first-class century, scoring 85, but he set the tone for a hefty reply of 492, with Hamidullah Qadri adding a career-best 87. Kasey Aldridge finished with career-best figures of six for 110. Somerset offered little in their second innings, dismissed for 139 and grateful to a 19-ball 40 from Sajid Khan at the end that they got even that far. After so many strong seasons, this was a disappointing campaign for the West Country outfit, ending with defeat by an innings and 151 runs.
Essex won a low-scoring match at Northampton after being put in to bat and scoring 263, Ben Allison top-scoring with a career-best 69 not out. He then followed it up with career-best figures of five for 32 to help dismiss the hosts for 163. That 100-run lead looked insufficient when Northamptonshire struck back, Jack White taking a career-best six for 38 to dismiss Essex for 110. With Simon Harmer in your attack, you always have a chance even when defending just 211, and so it proved as he took six for 49 to bowl out the home side for 163, to give Essex a 47-run victory.
In the Second Division, Nottinghamshire were confirmed as champions after a mammoth 462-run victory – their largest (by runs) in their Championship history. It began as they piled up a daunting total of 662 for five, their highest ever against Durham. Four batters reached three figures: Haseeb Hameed (115), Matthew Montgomery (with a career-best 178), Lyndon James (a career-best 164 not out) and Steven Mullaney (136) – it was the second time this summer that an innings had included four centurions, while the latter pair’s fifth-wicket partnership of 224 was the biggest of the innings. Liam Trevaskis conceded 173 runs without taking a wicket.
Durham were then bowled out for 207. But rather than being forced to follow on, Nottinghamshire batted again, with Haseeb Hameed’s 49 not out taking him up to 1235 runs for the summer (the second most by any batter – like Jennings he’s still pressing his claim for an England opener’s spot) while Matty Potts picked up one more wicket to take his season total to 78 (11 more than his nearest rival, Toby Roland-Jones). They declared on 121 for two, setting a notional target of 577, but Durham were skittled out for just 114. Yorkshire fans probably looked on disapprovingly at the presence of Stuart Broad in the hosts’ line-up.
The weather at Worcester meant their game ended in a draw, with Middlesex also promoted alongside Nottinghamshire. Roland-Jones took four for 50 as the hosts were bowled out for 225, and Middlesex replied with 509, including 115 from Stephen Eskinazi.
Glamorgan finished nine points behind them, when they could only draw with Sussex at Hove. The away side took full advantage of their decision to bat first, making 533 for nine declared, with centuries from Shubman Gill (119) and Chris Cooke (141). Tom Haines carried his bat, making an unbeaten 106 out of Sussex’s reply of 258. Following on, he did even better, making 177. His opening partnership with Ali Orr, who hit a career-best 198 only to be run out two short of a double century, was 328 in just 56.2 overs. Danial Ibrahim added a maiden century, finishing on 100 not out as Sussex saved the match on 554 for eight, despite Andrew Salter’s five for 138.
Bottom-placed Leicestershire ended their season as the only winless side in the whole Championship. Put in to bat at Derby, they scored 249, with Sam Conners taking five for 51. Derbyshire replied with an opening partnership of 251 between Luis Reece (116) and Billy Godleman (158). Wayne Madsen then made 92, his tenth fifty (plus three hundreds) of the summer, to ensure he was the season’s leading runscorer, with 1273; it was a superb season for the 38-year-old. Derbyshire ended up on 568 for nine declared. In his third game, 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed took a career-best five for 114 then followed it up by hitting a maiden century (122) – two players at either end of their careers excelling. Leicestershire finished on 405 for seven and the match ended as a draw.