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Surrey and Essex Wins Keep the Title Race Alive

In the London derby at Lord’s, Surrey were put in to bat and Jamie Smith hit 138 to set the visitors on their way to a total of 433. Tom Helm finished with career-best figures of six for 110, but it’s been Middlesex’s batting that has been their problem this summer, and so it proved again as they were all out for 238 in reply. Following on, a career-best 46 not out from Ethan Bamber pushed his side past an innings defeat, but a target of 78 runs was achieved for the loss of two wickets to give Surrey their sixth win of the season and keep them 14 points clear at the top.


Essex kept the pressure on by beating Kent by seven wickets at Chelmsford. The visitors chose to bat first but managed a modest total of 207. Matt Critchley’s 117 was the biggest score in Essex’s reply, but a useful 83 not out from Simon Harmer helped the hosts up to a declaration on 458 for eight. Harry Finch’s 114 gave Kent some hope, but a score of 280 left the home side chasing just 30 for victory, which they took just 23 balls to achieve.


Hampshire’s three-day win at Trent Bridge put them third in the table, a further 15 points behind Essex. Nottinghamshire’s decision to bowl first seemed to have been fully justified when they dismissed the visitors for just 166. But they then succumbed to Hampshire’s august attack, with Ian Holland taking four for 19 and Ben Brown taking six catches behind the stumps. Holland followed it up by opening the batting and scoring 138 not out as his side declared on 344 for five, setting a target of 411. Brett Hutton took four wickets in the match, giving him 45 this summer. Although Calvin Harrison made a career-best 39, none of the frontline batsmen made the sort of score that would have given the home side a chance and they were all out for 294, beaten by 116 runs.


Warwickshire may have a game in hand on the sides above them, but a washout on the final day at Edgbaston ensured their match against Lancashire ended in a draw. The home side chose to bowl first, but an eighth-wicket stand of 145 between George Balderson (making a maiden century, 116 not out) and Tom Bailey (a career-best 75) saw the Red Rose county up to 327. Mir Hamza, on his debut for the Midlanders, took three for 96. The wickets were shared widely as Lancashire bowled out the hosts for 212 to put them in a strong position. The visitors had reached 182 for six, a lead of 297 at the end of the third day, suggesting the game could have moved to a fascinating climax but for the weather.


Somerset took that fourth-day weather out of the equation by beating Northamptonshire inside three days at the County Ground. Put in to bat, they made a handy 351 in their first innings, with Jack White taking five for 77. Ricardo Vasconcelos’s 78 was the only substantial score in the hosts’ reply of 180, and they were forced to follow on. Matt Henry did all the damage in the second innings, taking five for 73, with home captain Luke Procter proving the sole obstacle with his unbeaten 87 as they scored 224. A target of 54 was knocked off in little more than ten overs for the loss of one wicket.


In the Second Division, runaway leaders Durham were frustrated when the last day was lost to the weather, as well as by some fine batting from hosts Derbyshire. Brooke Guest was the main problem, as he made a mammoth career-best 197 in their total of 443. Scott Borthwick, who once threatened to be an England all-rounder, made a rare impact these days with the ball, taking four for 25. Matthew Potts picked up two wickets, taking him to 45 for the summer, joint with Hutton as the leading wicket-taker. In reply, Durham hit back with 575. Alex Lees’s 171 meant he became the first batter of the summer to reach 1000 runs for the season. David Bedingham followed it up with 138, and Sam Conners earned the most credit among the bowlers, taking five for 115. Guest continued his fine match by not conceding a bye in the Durham innings. Derbyshire had reached 89 without loss in their second innings when the match ended prematurely.


Second-placed Sussex had reason to be grateful to the weather at Headingley, when the final day was washed out when they were struggling to save the game. They chose to bat first, and will have been disappointed by making only 216, thanks in part to Fynn Hudson-Prentice equalling his highest score for them, 73. Adam Lyth’s 115 set Yorkshire on the way to their reply of 364 for eight declared. Sussex had to bat long to save the match, and had reached 236 for seven when the rain brought the match to a close.


Worcestershire and Leicestershire are both just two points behind Sussex after the former went to Oakham and beat the latter inside three days. The hosts will have been pleased with their decision to bowl first as Worcestershire scored just 178 in their first innings. However, that proved more than enough as they could make only 110 in reply, Rehan Ahmed’s 44 the highest score by either side in the first innings. The departing Dillon Pennington took four for 36. Jake Libby’s 67 was crucial in the away side’s second-innings total of 169. A target of 238 wouldn’t usually seem formidable, but in the context of this low-scoring game it was too much for Leicestershire, who were bowled out for 137, with Josh Tongue (also soon to leave) taking five for 29.


The game at Cheltenham started a day later than the other fixtures and Glamorgan chose to bat first. Four of their batters made between 76 and 98 as they declared on 450 for six. Nineteen-year-old Truro CC batter Joe Phillips made his first-class debut for Gloucestershire and eventually got to bat on the fourth day, making 17. Chris Dent hit 113 and the home side finished on 402 for six, having secured the requisite batting point in the inevitable draw.