Tom Abell's first victory as Somerset captain gave them a huge boost in the fight for Division One survival.
SOMERSET v WARWICKSHIRE
Somerset wrapped up a 169-run victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston to give a huge boost to their bid for Specsavers County Championship Division One survival.
Chasing 402 for victory, the home side was bowled out for 232 to suffer their seventh defeat in 11 Championship games and one which effectively seals their relegation after nine seasons in the top flight.
Somerset, meanwhile, will face Lancashire at the Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, next week with momentum high as they strive to reel in one of the sides above them over the final three games.
Warwickshire will face Essex at Edgbaston next week with the prospect of having their relegation sealed while the visitors celebrate clinching the title in the adjacent dressing-room.
Somerset's march towards victory on the final day was delayed by rain which prevented play before lunch, with the loss of 21 overs, but then, much to the visitors relief, the sun came out.
After Warwickshire resumed at 12.30pm on 172 for six they added just 12 before Craig Overton nipped one back inside Tim Ambrose's defence to dismiss him lbw for 21.
Jeetan Patel and Chris Wright added 35 before the latter was bowled by a swinging yorker from Tim Groenewald - although the spinners enjoyed themselves in this match on a turning track it was perhaps the work of Somerset seamers Groenewald and Overton that was most impressive.
Former Warwickshire player Groenewald completed a well-deserved five-for (ending with five for 58) when Patel (42, 71 balls, six fours) lifted to point and Dom Bess completed the most emphatic of victories when he knocked out Sunny Singh's off-stump.
LANCASHIRE v ESSEX
The Specsavers County Championship clash between league leaders Essex and second-placed Lancashire ended in a draw after rain wiped out almost four sessions of the match at Old Trafford.
Both sides took nine points as Essex maintain a 36-point lead in the Championship with three matches remaining. The game ended at 4.10pm after Essex declared in order to prevent Lancashire from picking up another bowling point, with both captains then shaking hands on a draw.
Essex head coach Chris Silverwood said: “The title is getting closer but one game at a time. Let’s focus on the present and deal with what’s in front of us really.
"If we do that then the bigger picture will come together. When we get to Warwickshire [next week] let’s make sure we keep doing the right things."
It transpired that Lancashire then also declared without batting and those two declarations took 20 minutes out of the game and moved the match into the last hour.
Therefore both captains were able to agree that a result was not possible and the match could end in a draw. A wet outfield after heavy overnight rain meant that there was no play possible before lunch on the final day.
When play did get underway at 1.40pm, Essex resumed their first innings on 115/4 in reply to Lancashire’s 290 and quickly passed their first target which was to avoid the follow-on.
From there it was largely a battle for bonus points and Lancashire struck four times before tea to secure their second bowling point which moved them ahead of Essex by four points to three in the match.
Ryan McLaren dismissed Adam Wheater and Ashar Zaidi before Tom Bailey bowled James Foster as Lancashire took three wickets in four overs to reduce Essex to 151/7. Jordan Clark then went on to trap Simon Harmer for 11 which triggered an early tea with Essex still 28 runs short of the 200 runs required to earn their first batting point.
Ninth-wicket pairing Paul Walter and Jamie Porter guided the leaders past that point with the final delivery before the new ball was due. Lancashire captain Ryan McLaren took the new ball and at that stage, Essex promptly decided to declare on 202/8, trailing by 88 runs after the first innings.
That meant that Lancashire couldn’t get that final bowling point to move ahead in the match and the gap between the top two remains the same as it was before this game. Essex are at Warwickshire next week while Lancashire travel down to Taunton to face Somerset.
HAMPSHIRE v SURREY
Ollie Pope crashed his maiden First Class century but his efforts couldn’t prevent Surrey’s Division One Specsavers County Championship match with Hampshire from being drawn.
Pope, who is only 19, appeared in complete control throughout his free-flowing innings as he ended up on an unbeaten 100.
The delighted centurion said: “The first Champo hundred was always going to be a special moment and luckily it came a lot quicker than I had anticipated. It is an incredibly proud moment. This is a moment I have dreamt about and it was just about when it was going to come."
Pope added an unbroken partnership of 154 for the fifth wicket with Ben Foakes before captains George Bailey and Gareth Batty shock hands to end the game at 4.30pm.
The right handed batsman, who was making his third First Class appearance, reached his first professional half century in 89 balls.
Before accelerating to three figures from 137 delivery – as Hampshire offered up some part-time bowling to allow him to reach his hundred and force the end of the game. Foakes had batted a similarly impressive innings to reach 83 not out, having scored his fifty in 113 balls.
Rain washed out all but five overs on the opening day, and despite two full days, rain on the morning of the fourth day ended hopes of a positive result. Instead, Hampshire keep hold of their third place position by taking an additional bonus point, with Surrey remaining fourth.
YORKSHIRE v MIDDLESEX
The final day of the Specsavers County Championship match between Yorkshire and Middlesex at Headingley saw only one session of play, with the inevitable draw confirmed.
Play started at 3.10pm following heavy overnight and morning rain, with Middlesex advancing their first innings from 108 for three to 272 for eight declared, including a fine unbeaten 65 for Australian Adam Voges.
The sodden outfield in front of the Football Stand was the reason why umpires Jeremy Lloyds and Richard Illingworth went through a series of inspections before giving play the green light after tea with a minimum of 38 overs to bowl.
A total of 198 overs were lost in the match, including a washed out first day on Tuesday. Liam Plunkett picked up two of the five wickets to fall, the first of them in his first over of the day, the fifth in all, having replaced Ben Coad.
He bowled Paul Stirling for 24 with a nip-backer to leave the score at 137 for four after 37 overs before undoing John Simpson with extra bounce and getting him caught at second slip with 143 on the board in the 41st.
This was Plunkett’s final Championship appearance of the season due to England limited overs duty, with Adil Rashid also in the same boat. However, the leg-spinner only bowled five overs.
Coad returned to the attack and picked up the sixth wicket of the innings as Yorkshire clinched their second bowling point. He had Middlesex captain James Franklin caught at second slip, with Adam Lyth taking his second catch as the score fell to 184 for six after 52 overs.
Rashid had James Harris (19) caught at deep square, leaving Middlesex at 206 for seven in the 58th. That was the visitors' first batting point, with Ollie Rayner’s 37 in a stand of 66 helping them reach 250 for a second batting point.
They had a dart at reaching 300 before declaring immediately upon Rayner’s departure - bowled by Bresnan - to stop Yorkshire from getting a ninth wicket for another bowling point. There were 3.1 overs remaining.
Yorkshire take eleven points and Middlesex 10 from this draw, with the hosts leapfrogging the Lord’s based county by a place to fifth in the Division One table courtesy of more wins. They have both have 114 points with three left to play.