Alex Hales and Cameron Steel steal the headlines with their superb batting in a thrilling day two.
DERBYSHIRE v NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Alex Hales delivered a compelling reminder of his international class with a brilliant double century that put Nottinghamshire in total control of the Division Two match against Derbyshire at Derby.
The England batsman plundered 38 fours and a six in a run-a-ball 218 which included a century between lunch and tea and shared a sixth wicket stand of 204 in 35 overs with skipper Chris Read who scored 75.
Derbyshire’s bowlers contributed 50 extras, including 24 no balls and 10 wides, to Nottinghamshire’s 508 for 9 declared which left the home side needing 288 to avoid an innings defeat.
They started badly, losing Luis Reece to their former fast bowler Mark Footitt in the fourth over and at the close were 45 for 1, still 243 behind.
Derbyshire might have thought it was going to be their day when Tony Palladino deflected a Steven Mullaney drive into the stumps to run out Samit Patel in the fourth over of the morning.
Oh, Samit... 😣— County Championship (@CountyChamp) 7 August 2017
Is there an unluckier way to get out in cricket?! pic.twitter.com/wonMd0nEPu
When Mullaney sliced Tom Taylor to point, the game was still in the balance but Derbyshire’s bowling lacked the consistency and discipline required to put Hales under pressure.
There were 12 fours in his first 50 and he stayed in overdrive for the rest of an innings which put his team in a dominant position and allowed Read to let his bowlers loose at Derbyshire before stumps.
Riki Wessels made only 13 out of a fifth wicket stand of 80 before he gloved a lifting delivery from Hardus Viljoen who was straight-driven by Hales for his 20th four to reach his first Championship hundred of the season.
With Read scoring freely from the start, 181 runs came in the afternoon session with Hales sweeping a Luis Reece full toss for his 27th four to go to 150.
His 200 came from only 201 balls and after Read was caught behind down the legside, Hales struck two more fours before he swung Wayne Madsen to deep midwicket where Viljoen took a good running catch.
There was still more punishment to come as Jake Ball opened his shoulders and smashed four sixes in 43 off 24 balls before Read pulled out leaving Derbyshire to negotiate 12 overs.
It was always going to be a tricky period for the openers and Reece did not survive, edging a loose drive at Footitt to give Read his 967th dismissal for Nottinghamshire.
LEICESTERSHIRE v DURHAM
Durham's bowlers drove home the advantage after the visitors had made their highest score against Leicestershire since becoming a first-class county.
Teenage seamer Matthew Potts picked up two wickets as the Foxes lost four wickets in the final session of the day. The 18-year-old from Sunderland trapped Colin Ackermann leg before with a delivery that stayed low, before producing a lifter that Harry Dearden could only edge to third slip, where Tom Latham took a sharp catch in front of his face.
Chris Rushworth made the first breakthrough, knocking Paul Horton's middle stump out of the ground when the experienced opener had reached 38, and had added 62 with Dearden when Leicestershire began their reply.
The foundation of Durham's imposing 525-8 was Cameron Steel's 224, the 21-year-old becoming the youngest double centurion in Durham's history.
The record breaker said: "It's a pretty surreal feeling, to be honest, but it feels pretty good, the more so because it's helped put the team in a good position.
"To have my family here from Perth, Australia makes it very special - I usually don't score any runs in front of them so it's a nice change," he commented.
The California-born Steel, who began the day on 145, reached his 200 off 384 balls, hitting 24 boundaries in the process, before being caught at backward point as the visitors looked to accelerate past 500.
Having been dropped twice the previous day, by Dearden at second slip on 50, and by Aadil Ali at backward point on 129, Steel was fortunate again on 165 when Ajmal Shazhad found the edge of his bat with a full delivery, only for Horton to put down a chest-high chance at first slip.
The next ball from Shahzad, a half-volley, was driven for four, and the following delivery from the same bowler, a long-hop, pulled to midwicket for another boundary, a sequence summing up the inconsistency of a Foxes attack missing five senior seamers.
Having failed to take a wicket throughout the first two sessions of the first day, Leicestershire made it three sessions out of four as Michael Richardson and Steel extended their unbroken fifth wicket partnership to 147 at lunch.
The afternoon session, however, saw a clatter of wickets as Durham began to throw the bat. one of which was that of Steel, one of four victims for Neil Dexter, the veteran all-rounder marking his return from injury by finishing with 5-71, by some margin his best bowling of a much-disrupted season.
He also picked up the wickets of Ryan Pringle, Michael Richardson and Potts as Leicestershire, having previously put down a total six chances, finally remembered how to catch.
CLOSE | LCCC finish 124-4 Eckersley 16* & Dexter 9*— Leicestershire CCC🏏 (@leicsccc) 7 August 2017
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE v GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Liam Norwell and David Payne produced an inspired new ball spell as Gloucestershire roared back into the game at Wantage Road. Northamptonshire closed the second day 50 for 5 in their second innings, leading by only 128.
Richard Gleeson took his maiden first-class five-wicket haul to help bowl Gloucestershire out for 265 and give Northants a lead of 78 with 16 overs remaining in the day. But within six overs, Northants were 19 for 5 and ambitions for a victory to raise their promotion hopes were left in tatters.
First Payne slid a ball across Rob Newton to find an edge that was splendidly held by George Hankins diving to his right from third slip. Ben Duckett followed, edging Norwell from round the wicket to second slip. Payne straightened a full delivery to knock out Max Holden’s off stump before Norwell brought one back to pin Rob Keogh lbw. Finally, Norwell produced the best delivery of the lot - one that shaped away to trim the off bail of Richard Levi.
Alex Wakely, on 23, and Adam Rossington managed to battle out the remaining 10 overs.
It was a dramatic conclusion to a day where Northants initially got themselves ahead in the game through Gleeson. He struck twice in his first four overs of the morning with two fine deliveries that held their line to take edges of both Gareth Roderick - caught at the wicket for a fourth-ball duck - and Will Tavare - held at second slip for 13.
Shortly before tea, when Gloucestershire recovered from 165 for 5 to 219 for 5 through Kieran Noema-Barnett and Jack Taylor, who counterattacked with a partnership of 54 in 11.2 overs, Gleeson returned from the Wantage Road End with two wickets in two balls.
A rising delivery took the shoulder of Taylor’s bat and looped to slip, Levi took an easy catch and Taylor walked off for 28. Next ball, a spearing yorker that Gleeson has used so effectively in T20 cricket ripped into the off stump of Craig Miles. The hat-trick ball - in his next over - struck the body of Noema-Barnett. Another yorker to debutant George Drissell ended the innings and handed Northants useful lead.
The hosts chipped away well throughout the day as three half-century stands developed but nothing to take a significant chunk out of Northants’ first innings 343.
George Hankins shared a stand of 66 with his captain Phil Mustard before Mustard ran past a flighted delivery from left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan, on-loan from Lancashire, and lost his off stump for 26 just before lunch.
Hankins followed his century in this fixture last season with 73 before becoming the first of three wickets for the off-spin of Keogh. Hankins, having passed fifty in 86 balls with his fifth four - steered to third man off Gleeson - top-edged a sweep and was caught by Kerrigan at backward square-leg.
Hankins shared a stand of 69 for the fourth wicket with Iain Cockbain, who was also going steadily on 27, but took a step down the wicket at Keogh to one that turned and was caught bat-pad at short-leg by Holden.
The second double strike of the innings - by Gleeson before tea - saw Gloucestershire slip to 219 for 7 and in danger of leaking a big lead but Noema-Barnett counterattacked to good effect. He struck Simon Kerrigan down the ground for two sixes, slog-swept him for four more, took another boundary over extra-cover and also drove Keogh straight for four in a 65-ball fifty.
WORCESTERSHIRE v SUSSEX
Sussex cemented their grip on the Specsavers County Championship clash with second placed Worcestershire despite another classy innings from Joe Clarke at New Road.
Jofra Archer's eventful half century - he was bowled twice off a no ball - piloted Sussex from their overnight 342-7 to 430 all out.
To bowl Jofra Archer once off a no ball may be regarded as misfortune, to do it twice… 😱 pic.twitter.com/GeeDfnYAx4— County Championship (@CountyChamp) August 7, 2017
Then Worcestershire were reduced to 231-8, 50 short of avoiding the follow on, with Harry Finch taking five catches in an innings - the sixth time a Sussex outfield player has achieved that feat.
Only Clarke looked entirely comfortable against the Sussex pace duo of Chris Jordan and Archer in racing to 77 off 79 balls with 12 fours.
It followed on from successive scores of 142, 110 not out, 45, 23 and 93 not out in his five previous Championship innings.
Clarke eventually became one of three victims for Jordan (17-5-61-3) while Archer finished with 2-54
The home side initially ran into trouble after openers Daryl Mitchell and Brett D'Oliveira had put on 39.
Mitchell (7) drove at Archer and nicked through to Finch at second slip and D'Oliveira (27) departed in the same fashion off David Wiese.
Tom Fell (12) then fell victim to a superb reflex catch by Archer at mid wicket as he worked Jordan off his legs.
Clarke instantly looked in prime form and galloped to his fifty with nine boundaries including three in one over from Stuart Whittingham.
The England Lions batsman was given staunch support by George Rhodes in a stand of 77 in 17 overs before the latter on 13 chopped spinner Danny Briggs onto his stumps.
Ben Cox (0) nicked an Archer delivery to present a third catch to Finch who then produced a brilliant diving effort in the same position to end Clarke's fine knock off the bowling of Jordan.
Skipper Joe Leach (1) was lbw to Jordan before Ed Barnard and John Hastings, who was accompanied by a runner, added 48.
After a brief stoppage, the players returned and Hastings (34) was instantly dismissed as Finch claimed his fifth catch at backward point off Stiaan van Zyl.
Earlier Archer survived being bowled twice off a no ball by Barnard on seven and 29 but in between he played some powerful strokes.
Jordan added only a single to his overnight 57 before he was bowled by Josh Tongue and Fell produced a superb catch at mid wicket to dismiss Danny Briggs (16) off Leach.
Pat Brown claimed his first Championship wicket to wrap up the innings with Archer finally holing out to Fell at deep square leg for 59.