After a few weeks off for some white ball antics, the Specsavers County Championship returns this weekend with EIGHT tantalising matches. Here’s a quick run-through of how both divisions are set up entering the next set of fixtures…
Many thought new boys Essex would struggle in the top tier after securing promotion for the first time in eight years, however the Eagles have soared this season and currently sit in first place. In spinner Simon Harmer they possess the top wicket-taker in the land, with 47 so far...
Below them is a tightly bunched group – Lancashire, Hampshire, Yorkshire, and to a lesser extent Middlesex and Surrey – who will all retain hopes of battling it out for the title. Just 14 points separate sixth-placed Surrey with second-placed Lancashire.
Meanwhile, Somerset and Warwickshire are falling away at the bottom of the table. The West Country side are 30 points adrift of safety, but earned their first red-ball win of the season last time out, against Yorkshire no less. Warwickshire, however, are still in search of their maiden victory and have lost four times by an innings this season.
Nottinghamshire reacted quickly to last season’s chastening relegation and rapidly turned their form around, going unbeaten in the competition this summer, to leave them top of Division Two. Samit Patel has starred with the bat for the leaders, becoming the first player to score consecutive double centuries for the county.
Not far behind Notts lie Worcestershire, led by powerful all-rounder and captain Joe Leach, who jointly-tops the division’s wicket-taking chart. A slip up against a resurgent Glamorgan hasn’t derailed their campaign, though, going on a three-match unbeaten run since. Also vying for promotion are Kent, Northamptonshire and Sussex, the latter two holding a game in hand over Kent and the top two sides.
Durham have overcome their 48-point penalty following two wins and, under the leadership of Paul Collingwood, have come close to further positive results with attacking declarations that did not quite go their way. That leaves Leicestershire propping up the table after failing to win a single match so far in 2017.