Sussex romp to title

Lv County Championship
Mushtaq Ahmed

Mushtaq Ahmed lifts the Liverpool Victoria County Championship trophy

Mushtaq Ahmed passed 100 wickets for the season as Sussex secured the Liverpool Victoria County Championship courtesy of an innings victory over Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

The Pakistani leg-spinner ended with career-best figures of 9-48 and a match haul of 13-108.

The latter statistic is also the best of Mushtaq's illustrious Sussex career, inspiring victory by an innings and 245 runs over hapless Notts, who were bowled out for 150 to go with 165 first time round.

Mushtaq, who took 103 wickets in Sussex's maiden title summer of 2003, was responsible for the first six wickets to fall as Notts folded in notional pursuit of a highly notional 395 to make their opponents bat again.

It all meant Sussex wrapped up the championship for the second time in four years, leaving their nearest rivals Lancashire unable to change the situation against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl.

It also left Nottinghamshire in a precarious position with the outcome of their season resting on the result of Yorkshire’s clash with Durham.

Should the match at Headingley Carnegie finish in a draw, last season’s county champions will suffer the ignominy of relegation to Division Two.

Lancashire were again frustrated by the rain as all but five overs of the third day's play were washed out.


The Sussex players enjoy their crowning glory at Trent Bridge

The visitors were in the driving seat at the start of the third day, 231 ahead of third-placed Hampshire.

Lancashire, eight for one in their second innings overnight, added a further five runs for the loss of Iain Sutcliffe, who was bowled for 12 by pace bowler James Bruce.

When heavy rain came down again, Lancashire were 13 for two, a lead of 236 with one day remaining.

The umpires waited until 2.30pm before an inspection of the pools of water which had formed on the outfield gave them no alternative but to abandon play for the day.

At the other end of the table, Durham were still clinging to a lifeline which could preserve their Division One status when rain saw play abandoned early in the afternoon against Yorkshire.

Captain Dale Benkenstein and Ottis Gibson hit centuries to take them beyond the 400 mark and earn the batting points that could see them stay up.

Shortly before 2pm rain came to the visitors' assistance by wiping out the remainder of the day's play with Durham 411 for six after 105 overs.

Benkenstein was unbeaten on 116 not out from 160 balls, with 12 fours, while Gibson, having completed his first century for Durham and only the second first-class ton of his career, had reached 104 not out.

The stand of 220 was the highest seven-wicket stand in Durham’s history.

Relegated Middlesex lost four wickets as rain disrupted play in their clash with Kent at Canterbury.

Wet conditions prevented play until 3.30pm and, with tea having been taken early, there was just one unbroken session of 40 overs.

Rose Bowl

Lancashire were thwarted by the rain at the Rose Bowl

At stumps Middlesex were 325 for eight in their first innings, still 278 runs behind Kent's impressive total of 603 for six declared.

In Division Two, there was only 70 minutes of action in Leicestershire's final game against promotion-chasing Essex.

With the home side at 290 for four, still 196 behind, play was abandoned in mid-afternoon after steady rain that had started to fall shortly before lunch.

Providing Worcestershire fail to win at Northants, Essex will have collected enough bonus points to ensure promotion.

Worcestershire's hopes of victory were dealt a blow when the entire day’s play was wiped out.

They already had a mountain to climb after failing to take maximum bonus points from the game, and the home side will resume on 24 without loss in their second innings, a lead of 85.

Young Derbyshire pace bowler Wayne White ended an injury-hit season on a high with a four-wicket haul against Surrey before rain ended play early at Derby.

White took the only two wickets to fall in the morning as Surrey avoided the follow-on but the champions are still 110 runs behind.

David Hemp completed his first century as Glamorgan captain to ensure his side would not finish bottom.

The new skipper and Dan Cherry both passed three figures against Gloucestershire to bank the three batting bonus points they needed to finish above Somerset.