What a round of County Champ action! Relive the best bits from a thoroughly entertaining day four...
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Few gave Essex a chance of survival when they got promoted last Autumn for the first time in seven years, never mind mounting a title challenge. Yet Ryan ten Doeschate has got his side playing with confidence, aided by a varied bowling attack and runs throughout the team. This time it was the turn of Ravi Bopara and Simon Harmer to take responsibility, as Essex widened the gap at the top of the Championship with a crushing win against Warwickshire.
With spinners taking a measly 4.6% of the wickets for Essex in their promotion season, the club moved quickly to arrest that drought upon sealing passage back to Division One. In came Simon Harmer on a one-season deal, whose impressive early performances saw that contract quickly extended by a further two years. He took career-best figures of 14/128 to wipe out Warwickshire, putting him top of Essex’s wicket-taking list in the Champ this summer, and the most by a spinner in the division.
RED ROSES BLOOM Whisper it, but could Lancashire be genuine title contenders? Supreme performances with the bat from Alex Davies, Ryan McLaren and that huge double ton from Dane Vilas, coupled with incisive bowling from Jimmy Anderson, Kyle Jarvis and all-rounder McLaren saw them hammer Hampshire by an innings and 30 runs. They go second, 14 points behind pace-setters Essex.
WORCS WIN THRILLER What a game at New Road! Kent looked down and out before Joe Denly hit 227 but Worcestershire battled back to chase down an unlikely target of 399. Opener Daryl Mitchell hit his fourth century in five Championship matches, while Joe Clarke mirrored his first innings ton with another in the second as the Pears won an intriguing match to leapfrog Kent into Div Two’s second spot.
DELERIOUS DURHAM Durham finally have a win in Division Two and what a win it was! Needing a not-inconsiderable 157 from the final session of the match, you’d be forgiven for thinking it could have gone either way. But openers Stephen Cook (89*) and Cameron Steel (51) smashed the Glamorgan bowlers to all parts en route to a triumphant nine-wicket win.