LANCASHIRE v WARWICKSHIRE
Lancashire completed their sixth Specsavers County Championship victory of the season from 10 matches as they chased down a target of 41 to beat Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford.
The Red Rose county, second in Division One, boosted their chances of winning a second title in seven years by completing a maximum 24-point win by eight wickets during the fourth afternoon.
But they were left waiting to see if Somerset could do them a favour by hanging on for the draw against leaders Essex. At worst, Lancashire will go into next week’s top of the table clash between the two here 36 points behind the Chelmsford side. It could be 25 if Essex fail to win this afternoon.
Tim Ambrose’s 16th career first-class century, an excellent 104 off 198 balls, at least ensured Warwickshire avoided a fifth innings defeat of 2017 as they posted a second-innings total of 344.
But, still, their sixth defeat in 10 leaves them in a perilous situation at the bottom of the table having only taken two points. They will either be 34 or 35 points adrift of safety by the end of the day with four games remaining.
There was no play possible before lunch due to rain, but play started at 1.10pm with a minimum of 72 overs to be bowled. The Bears started on 275 for six in their second innings, trailing by 29, with Ambrose unbeaten on 76 and Jeetan Patel 18.
The pair brought up their 50 partnership in the first over from Kyle Jarvis, who set up this win with six first-innings wickets during the opening afternoon on Monday. Ambrose reached his ton off 156 balls in the 88th over, the third over of play, as the pair shared a stand of 86 inside 20 overs.
That partnership was ended when home captain Ryan McLaren trapped Patel lbw for 30 as the score fell to 315 for seven in the 95th over, a lead of eleven. Jarvis then bowled Chris Wright with one that kept a touch low in the next over to leave the score at 326 for eight.
Warwickshire were helped along by the addition of five penalty runs when a Matthew Parkinson delivery beat everyone in his first over of the day, including batsman Olly Stone, and hit the helmet placed behind wicketkeeper Alex Davies.
But the leg-spinner struck in his second, the 103rd of the innings, when he had Ambrose lbw with 339 on the board, a lead of 35. Jarvis wrapped up the innings with his eighth wicket of the match when he uprooted Ryan Sidebottom’s middle and off stumps in the next over, leaving Lancashire with 51 overs to chase their target.
Alex Davies took two boundaries off Keith Barker’s first over, but he fell lbw to the same bowling in the fifth as the score fell to 22 for one. Haseeb Hameed launched Patel’s off-spin for six over long-on, but he was also lbw in Barker’s next over for 21 as the score fell to 35 for two. Liam Livingstone, whose first-innings 224 was Lancashire’s standout performance of this match, finished three not out and Dane Vilas two.
Lancashire coach Glen Chapple said: "Today's panned out well for us, and it's a good win. It was a quality knock from Liam. I don't remember many chances.
"It will be good to see, both during and after the game, how both teams have come on (Essex ahead of next week). We played them in the first game of the season, and I thought we had the best of that. It was disappointing at the time not to get over the line, and we would hope to dominate the next game and see where that takes us."
ESSEX v SOMERSET
Jamie Porter recorded career-best match figures of 12 for 95 to strengthen Essex’s hand at the top of the Specsavers County Championship with an embarrassingly comfortable victory over Division One strugglers Somerset.
The seamer followed up first-innings figures of five for 40 with best innings figures of seven for 55 in the second, and in the process passed 50 Championship wickets for the third season in succession.
Of greater significance, Essex’s fifth win in a row gave them a 36-point advantage over second-placed Lancashire ahead of the top-of-the-table match at Old Trafford, starting on Tuesday.
Porter was particularly pleased that two of his 12 wickets in the match were those of Marcus Trescothick. He admitted: “He’s one I love to get. He was a hero growing up and to get him twice in the game is a special feeling. It was 2005 I really got into the game – watching him play in the Ashes, how much he pretty much dominated Test cricket for a time. Just to be playing against him is quite a special feeling.
“It was nice to get Tres second ball, but to win the game is the best feeling. It really gives us a boost going to Old Trafford next week. This win puts us in a helluva position at the top.”
“We knew we only had two sessions to go all out and we gave them everything we had. We felt if all 11 blokes gave everything they had then the worst was we were going to draw the game. We didn’t feel we were going to lose it.”
Somerset succumbed by 179 runs inside 38 overs chasing 289 to win in just under two sessions on the final day. Earlier, Adam Wheater took his overnight 58 to a season’s Championship high of 88, while Ryan ten Doeschate chipped in with a bright 67, to lay the foundations for a Somerset target of just under five an over.
Coming in from the Hayes Close End, Porter was almost unplayable as the ball whizzed and swung, nipped, tucked and reared. He struck with the second ball of the innings, Marcus Trescothick chopping on.
There might have been another in Paul Walter’s first over, but Varun Chopra’s view of an edge from Eddie Byrom might have been obscured by James Foster’s dive. It mattered little in the long run. Porter claimed the second wicket in his next over, swinging one in to Tim Rouse to take the edge on its way through to James Foster. The same combination accounted for Byrom at which point Porter had three for 15 from 19 deliveries.
Harmer entered the fray in the next over and with his third ball had Tom Abell playing no shot to be judged lbw. James Hildreth laid into the Essex attack with 22 from 22 balls before he followed one from Porter and was caught behind.
Craig Overton and Steven put on 39 for the sixth wicket, but the return of Porter in the first over after tea signalled the end of Davies, essaying a shot through midwicket but edging to Nick Browne at third slip. It gave Porter his 10th wicket in the match, beating the nine for 160 he posted against Surrey on the same ground at the end of May.
Dom Bess followed swiftly, the latest batsman this season to offer no shot to Harmer and look surprised to be given lbw.
Porter’s record sixth wicket in an innings arrived in his 11th over when he came around the wicket to beat Jack Leach for pace. Tim Groenewald failed to get a bat on another express delivery for number seven before Harmer completing the victory by bowling Overton for a 73-ball 36.
Essex advanced their lead by 126 runs in an entertaining 29-over morning session. Ten Doeschate, who had come in just before rain curtailed the third day, rattled off an enterprising 67 from 89 balls before he was seventh man out to the last ball before lunch.
During that time he was the guiding force in stands of 77 for the fifth wicket in 20 overs with Adam Wheater, and 50 from nine overs with James Foster for the sixth. Ten Doeschate set out his stall from the start. He survived an early caught-and-bowled chance that gave Tim Groenewald a painful rap on the knuckle, but made the most of his good fortune.
Wheater continued to play attractively, though he reverted to the role of second fiddle in a stand that went past fifty in 13 overs. He pulled Paul van Meekeren sharply through midwicket for his 11th boundary before chasing an outswinger from Craig Overton and was caught behind. He had faced 188 balls.
A wristy late cut off van Meekeren gave ten Doeschate his fourth four, and a scampered two into the covers next ball carried him to a 76-ball fifty. Successive fours off Groenewald by ten Doeschate, one past gully and another through the covers, took a rapid sixth-wicket stand with Foster to fifty.
The wicketkeeper landed some lusty blows in his 22 from 34 balls before he went lbw to Groenewald. With no addition to the score, ten Doeschate pushed forward to Jack Leach and was snapped up by Marcus Trescothick at slip. At that point Essex led by 279 with 66 overs left in the day.
They batted on for 15 minutes after lunch during which time they added 10 runs for the loss of Harmer and Porter, both to the young spinner Dom Bess. With Mohammad Amir absent hurt it was the end of the Essex innings.
Somerset captain Tom Abell said: “You’ve got to give credit to the way Porter bowled. I thought there was a little bit in the wicket throughout the game and he certainly extracted the most out of it. At the same time it was a pretty disappointing effort with the bat from us again – not for the first time this season. We’re not good enough with the bat at the moment, simple as that. They outperformed us in all areas.
“Confidence is down as it would be given the form of a lot of our batting line-up. There’s no substitute for runs and time out in the middle. Unfortunately none of our batting line-up have found any rhythm and had any extended period of time at the crease this season. It’s an issue we’re all too aware of. It is all very well trying to address it in the nets and in training, but it is difficult to put it right."
SURREY v MIDDLESEX
Surrey's clash against Middlesex ended a draw with the game being abandoned following an incident, with Middlesex reaching 214 for 7 in their second innings, a lead of 181 runs.
Sam Curran had earlier taken three wickets in ten balls and Middlesex slumped to 94 for 6, a lead of just 61 runs, shortly after lunch.
But John Simpson added 64 in 16 overs with Ollie Rayner (30) and 56 with Nick Compton (28 not out) when the game was abandoned. Simpson finished 88 not out from 150 balls with 13 fours.
The result leaves Surrey fourth in the County Championship Division One table, while Middlesex are one place and nine points behind.