• Specsavers County Championship 7m

    All change at the top of Division One

    Round-up of the thrills and spills in Division One as the top spot changed hands on a thrilling day four.

    Surrey 339 & 288 LOST to Essex 453 & 253/2 by eight wickets
    Somerset 224 & 258 LOST to Yorkshire 202 & 283 by three runs

    Lancashire 309 & 111/2 BEAT Middlesex 180 & 236 by eight wickets


    Tom Westley’s 108 not out, and an equally fine 77 from Nick Browne, took Essex to an emphatic eight-wicket victory against Surrey at Guildford which takes them to the top of the Specsavers County Championship Division One table. 

    Needing 253, from a minimum of 83 overs, after they had bowled Surrey out a second time for 288 earlier in the day, Essex reached 253 for 2 little more than half-an-hour after tea and always looked totally in control despite a wearing last day pitch.

    Westley was joined in an unbroken third wicket partnership of 105 in 27 overs by Dan Lawrence, who finished unbeaten on 32. Essex took 24 points from their third win of the season, with Surrey having to settle for seven.

    Since gaining promotion last year, Essex have surprised the rest of the first division with their early-season success – but this was a comprehensive win against a team who themselves led Division One until the last round of matches and was achieved despite seamer Matt Quinn suffering a back spasm on day one which has prevented him from bowling since.

    Essex began their chase well, with a half-century stand posted by Browne and Alastair Cook. But Cook was out on the stroke of lunch for 31 when, having just driven Ravi Rampaul to the cover boundary, he was drawn into another off drive and edged to Scott Borthwick at second slip.

    Browne was eventually caught at slip from one which turned and bounced, playing back to Gareth Batty’s off spin, but not before he and Westley had added a further 95 for the second wicket. The tall left-hander had faced just 96 balls, hitting 13 fours, and in the latter half of his innings he produced some quality strokes – including an effortless straight drive for four to greet Stuart Meaker’s introduction into the attack and then a dismissive short-armed pull to the boundary off Ravi Rampaul.

    Batty’s off spin did not trouble the Essex batsmen in the same way that former South Africa Test off spinner Simon Harmer had made Surrey battle for runs in his second innings return of 4 for 83 from 39 overs.

    Westley moved to 97 with three successive fours off Scott Borthwick’s leg spin, and then completed three figures with a pull for four off Meaker. His hundred came from 162 balls and, overall, he faced 168 balls, hitting 17 fours.

    In the morning Ben Foakes finished unbeaten on 65, from 149 balls, as Surrey added just 35 runs to their overnight 253 for 7 before the innings ended in a rush of poor shots and crazy running.Meaker drove a half-volley from left arm paceman Neil Wagner to extra cover to go for 14, and two balls later Rampaul clipped the same bowler to backward square leg.

    Foakes was then left stranded when he drove Wagner down the ground, looking for two, but Lawrence moved quickly to his right at long off to field and return to the bowler and there was never any chance of a second run. Footitt, however, turning blind, set off for the second even though Foakes had clearly decided against it, and Wagner lobbed the ball down the pitch for keeper James Foster to whip off the bails with Footitt helpless in mid-pitch. 


    Ryan Sidebottom finished with match figures of eight for 115 as Yorkshire pulled off a nerve-tingling three-run win over Somerset at Taunton, which put them top of the table, even if temporarily. The veteran left-arm seamer took three of the last four wickets to fall as the home side, chasing 262 to win, crashed from 231 for six to 258 all out.

    Adam Hose and Steve Davies hit half-centuries as Somerset battled to record their first Championship win of the season. But Sidebottom’s guile and some questionable shots from the late-order batsmen meant another day of frustration for Matthew Maynard’s team.

    Yorkshire’s fielders raced around the outfield in elation when the last wicket fell. They took 20 points to Somerset’s four from a memorable game that continually swung to and fro.

    "What a whirlwind game, After Huddersfield Town's penalty shoot-out win, it's certainly not good for my ticker," a delighted Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale said after the match.

    "I thought Gary Ballance's captaincy was excellent today. I might have been tempted to take the second new ball, but he stuck with the old one and Ryan Sidebottom did the business for us again.

    "You can't replace a player like Ryan. We weren't at our best as a team, but we have got the right result."

    Starting the day of 101 for four, requiring a further 161,  Somerset reached lunch on 205 for six, thanks largely to their two overnight batsmen. Hose and Davies batted comfortably through the first hour against mainly seam bowling. Both were watchful and advanced the total slowly at first.

    Hose went to his maiden Championship half-century off 103 balls, with 5 fours and a six, showing commendable maturity in a pressure situation on his debut in the competition. Davies then brought up his first fifty since joining Somerset from Surrey during the winter. The experienced left-hander had faced 109 deliveries and struck 6 fours.

    The stand was worth 118 in 39 overs when Hose lost concentration and drove a wide, flighted ball from Karl Carver in the air to Peter Handscomb at short cover.

    Lewis Gregory has been in good form with the bat lately and was soon on the attack, launching two boundaries off successive Adam Lyth deliveries. He and Craig Overton, celebrating his call-up to England’s T20 squad, were unbeaten at lunch, with 57 still needed, Overton having struck a straight six off Lyth.

    The afternoon session saw Overton smack his second six, this time depositing a Carver long-hop over wide long-on. With 40 needed, Yorkshire skipper Gary Ballance recalled Ryan Sidebottom into the attack and it proved a match-winning decision. His first over back saw Overton edge to third-man for four

    The second saw Gregory, on 26, chase a wide one and drive a catch to cover where Carver took the ball with both hands above his head. The stand with Overton had added 42 in 13.5 overs, but 31 more runs were still needed.

    Overton was joined by twin brother Jamie. Both are naturally aggressive batsmen, but the situation called for cool heads. Craig played and missed twice in Sidebottom’s last over, persuading the wily left-armer not to take the new ball when it became due.

    It proved a good decision as Craig chanced his arm once too often, driving at a wide one and nicking a catch behind to give Sidebottom his second wicket.

    Jack Leach edged Lyth just short of second slip as the tension grew. Then Sidebottom struck again as Leach swung across a full length ball and was adjuged lbw, departing for a single.

    With 12 needed, Jamie Overton hit Lyth for six and two before chipping the off-spinner to mid-wicket where Carver took the catch to spark wild Yorkshire celebrations.

    Somerset director of cricket Matthew Maynard, said: "We encourage our young players to be positive, so it wouldn't be fair to criticise them for getting out to attacking shots.

    "There is work to do on our Championship cricket, but getting so close to a target of 262 suggests that we are not far away. The players are gutted in the dressing room and now we have to pick them up for a big Royal London One-Day cup game against Notts tomorrow."


    A first Championship five-wicket haul for Stephen Parry and a timely knock from England opener Haseeb Hameed ensured there were no major scares for Lancashire as they wrapped up an eight wicket win against title holders Middlesex at Southport.

    This was a fine performance from Lancashire who shrugged off their recent drubbing by Yorkshire to inflict a first Championship defeat on the visitors since September 2015 – a run of 21 games – in what was effectively a three day affair after Saturday’s total wash out.

    Hameed, who has struggled for form for his county this season, scored a characteristically patient 38 unbeaten from 81 balls as Lancashire passed their target of 108 with a flourish thanks to straight six from skipper Steven Croft who finished not out on 34.

    Faced with the modest total, Lancashire lost their first wicket in the final over before the lunch interval when wicket keeper Alex Davies edged Toby Roland-Jones to his fellow gloveman John Simpson for 13.

    Following the interval Liam Livingstone joined Hameed at the crease with the 23-year-old celebrating his call up to England’s squad for the three-match NatWest IT20 series against South Africa with a characteristically energetic 22 before a three-ball sequence saw him dropped at second slip by James Franklin, hit on the gloves by Roland-Jones, before edging one behind.

    The day had started with Middlesex holding a slender 27-run lead with four wickets in hand but that became three after half-an-hour’s play when James Harris edged a steepling delivery from Ryan McLaren to Davies for 19.

    Fifteen minutes later and Davies had another victim when Dawid Malan’s resistance ended following a battling 52 as he got another good one from McLaren.

    That left Middlesex on 180-8 and staring down the barrel but Tim Murtagh and Roland-Jones had other ideas as they biffed and bludgeoned their way to a 49-run partnership before Murtagh was stumped off the bowling of Parry for 27.

    A lead of 100 gave Middlesex a whiff of a chance if they could add another 30-40 runs but it wasn’t to be as Parry picked up his fifth wicket with Roland-Jones out lbw for 31 off 32 balls.

    The lads have out in a great team performance and defeated a team that haven't been beaten since 2015 so we're delighted with that. 

    A jubilant Lancashire head coach Glen Chapple, said: "When you face your first loss of the season it's always a mental challenge and we're fairly confident that we've been playing good cricket this season so it's always nice to comeback from a loss with a performance like that.

    "There are eight good teams in the division and one week you can beat last year's champions so you can't make any predictions. You've just got to work hard. After a win you take a lot of confidence and we'll take a lot of belief from this. You have result pitches at out grounds but to beat a good team like Middlesex requires a lot of work."

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