With title-chasing Surrey and Essex both without a fixture, attention focused instead on the relegation battle in Division One, with the bottom three all in action. At Edgbaston, Warwickshire chose to field first and Northamptonshire’s overseas recruit Karun Nair delivered the runs he’d been brought in for, top scoring with 78 on his Championship debut. But his side could manage only a relatively modest total of 250, because Oliver Hannon-Dalby took a career-best seven for 46. With shortened days’ play on the first two days, and a washout on the third day, Warwickshire declared on 147 for four early on the final day; the visitors made 72 without loss to set up an agreed run chase, with the hosts needing to make 176 for victory in 60 overs. When Ben Sanderson reduced the home side to 24 for five after taking a hat-trick, there were hopes for Northants that they could achieve a win that would keep their survival hopes alive. But Michael Burgess’s unbeaten 78 steered his side home to a two-wicket victory, and meant the visitors can now surely begin to prepare for life back in the Second Division.
Who will join them there is likely to go down to the wire between Kent and Middlesex. At Canterbury, Kent chose to bat first and were rewarded with a hefty 158 off just 153 balls from Zak Crawley, who treated the Nottinghamshire attack as if they were Australians. The hosts made 446 all out, with the visitors’ new recruit Asitha Fernando taking just one wicket. Brett Hutton’s two wickets were enough to take him level with Durham’s Matthew Potts on 54 wickets for the summer. Kent’s own bowling overseas signing, Yuzvendra Chahal, did rather better, taking three wickets as the away side were bowled out for 265 and forced to follow on. But it was Aron Nijjar, on loan from Essex, who did the most damage, taking four for 67. Kent needed to repeat the dose in the second innings, but an unbeaten 141 from Joe Clarke interrupted their progress, as did a career-best 84 from Brett Hutton. Veteran Michael Hogan (at 42) took five for 63, but the Midlanders’ total of 348 left Kent to chase 168. Fernando took three quick wickets, and the run chase became a battle for survival as the hosts finished on 86 for six.
Middlesex are just two points better off than Kent after their draw with Lancashire at Old Trafford. Having chosen to bat first, they will have wanted to do better than making 194. Dane Vilas will retire at the end of the season, but he made 124 as Lancashire hit back with 413, with George Bell scoring a career-best 91. The Londoners’ new recruit, Jayant Yadav, took five for 131. With time lost to the weather, it wasn’t too hard for Middlesex to see out the rest of the game, finishing on 160 for three.
In the Second Division, promoted Durham and second-placed Worcestershire weren’t playing, and in their absence Sussex beat Leicestershire in a thriller to move above their opponents and into third place, 18 points behind Worcestershire. The visitors chose to field first at Hove and will have been pleased enough to dismiss Sussex for 262, Matt Salisbury picking up five for 73. That total quickly took on massive proportions when the away side was skittled out for 108, Jaydev Undakat taking three wickets while Aristides Karvelas finished with four for 14. When Sussex finally declared on 344 for nine, they seemed overwhelming favourites as a target of 499 seemed unattainable. Colin Ackermann’s 136 gave them hope, but it was a 120 seventh-wicket partnership between new recruit Ben Cox and Tom Scriven (making a career-best 78) that brought a victory within their grasp. But, within eight balls, Unadkat removed them both, plus Scott Currie, so they slipped from 453 for six to 456 for nine. It wasn’t quite game over, as Chris Wright edged them closer to their target, before he too fell to Unadkat and Leicestershire were all out for 483, their highest fourth innings total, while Unadkat finished with figures of six for 94, fully justifying his recruitment in securing that 15-run victory.
Yorkshire chose to bat first on their visit to Sophia Gardens, and skipper Shan Masood fully justified that decision when making 192, his highest score for the county, as they piled up a total of 500. A spirited career-best 30 not out from No 11 Jamie McIlroy could only help Glamorgan up to 273 all out in reply, as Matthew Revis took a maiden five-wicket haul, to finish with figures of five for 50. Forced to follow on, the hosts’ blushes were spared when Eddie Byrom (101) and Sam Northeast (166 not out) both scored centuries, as they batted out the game and finished on 401 for five declared. Masood tried everything, giving everyone in his team a chance with the ball, bar himself. Benjamin Cliff, on his first-class debut, took the wicket of Glamorgan skipper Kiran Carlson.
The game in Bristol also ended in a draw, after Gloucestershire elected to bat first. Oliver Price made a career-high 132 as the hosts reached 377 all out; it could have been even more but for Anuj Dal taking six for 69, the best figures of his career. Pat Brown, making his debut for the visitors, ahead of a permanent move next summer, took just the one wicket. Derbyshire edged beyond the home side in their reply, with Leus du Plooy top scoring (108 not out) in their total of 403. That innings took him to 1160 runs for the summer (at an average of over 89), second only to Durham’s Alex Lees (on 1281). On his first-class debut, Ed Middleton had to wait until late in the innings to pick up his maiden wicket, Mark Watt. With time lost to the weather, the hosts batted out the bulk of the final day, finishing on 208 for six.