• Specsavers County Championship 7m

    Div Two: Worcestershire close in on top spot

    The Pears fought back valiantly against Leicestershire to close in on a crucial victory

    Glamorgan 207 & 320 v Northants 310 & 42/1
    Gloucestershire 385 & 67/0 v Kent 386
    Leicestershire 404 v Worcestershire 493 & 111/7
    Sussex 271 v Derbyshire 338 & 322/8


    Promotion-chasing Worcestershire are closing in on a third successive win in the Specsavers County Championship despite a superb performance from Leicestershire spinner Callum Parkinson.

    The home side achieved their first objective of the day in securing maximum batting points after extending their first innings total from 270/4 to 493 all out, despite Parkinson returning 8/148 from 45 overs - the best figures by a Leicestershire bowler for 26 years.

    Then the new ball attack of Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach and Josh Tongue quickly made significant inroads into the Leicestershire batting line-up as their opponents, facing a first innings deficit of 89, were reduced to 10/4 inside five overs.

    Tongue inflicted the initial damage in having Ned Eckersley (0) and Colin Ackermann (4) caught behind while Leach trapped Leicestershire skipper Mark Cosgrove (0) lbw and bowled Michael Carberry (1) after he offered no stroke.

    First innings century-maker Neil Dexter and Aadil Ali tried to repair the damage and kept the Worcestershire attack at bay for 18 overs. But Ed Barnard inflicted further damage as Ali (24) was leg before after a partnership of 49 with Dexter who then succumbed lbw to Ravi Ashwin for 48.

    The Indian spinner then struck in the final over of the day as Ben Raine (10) edged to Daryl Mitchell at second slip. Leicestershire eventually closed on 111/7  - a lead of 22 with three wickets remaining.

    Worcestershire began this match 36 points ahead of nearest challengers Northamptonshire and Sussex, who both have a game in hand, and are on course for a maximum points haul from this game to strengthen their hopes of a return to Division One.

    Parkinson's return was the best by a Foxes bowler since paceman Devon Malcom's 8/63 against Surrey at Grace Road in 2001. The former Derbyshire player quickly added to his overnight three wickets by having nightwatchman Tongue (10) stumped and Brett D'Oliveira caught and bowled off a leading edge after adding 17 to his overnight 121.

    But then the Worcestershire middle and lower order again came to the fore in ensuring all five batting points were safely secured. Ben Cox had a let off on nine when Eckersley at second slip spilled a straightforward chance off Dieter Klein. It proved a costly miss for Leicestershire as the wicket-keeper batsman and Ashwin plundered 67 in 10 overs mainly from the second new ball.

    Parkinson returned to the attack and accounted for Ashwin (44) who was caught low down at cover. Barnard (20) also provided a staunch ally for Cox in adding a further 63. 

    He was eventually caught behind off Ben Raine and then Parkinson tidied up the innings as Leach (28) was caught and bowled and Cox's fine knock ended on 77 from 107 balls as he holed out to mid-off.


    Northants have been set 218 to win and increase their chances of gaining promotion to Division One, and at the close had reached 42 for 1, with Rob Newton and Simon Kerrigan at the crease.

    They almost lost a wicket to the seventh ball of the innings, when Merchant De Lange just failed to hold on to a return catch from Ben Duckett on 1, but Michael Hogan dismissed the former England opener shortly before the close.

    Earlier, Glamorgan had batted with more application and purpose in their second innings than in the first, especially after losing two wickets in the opening overs, and although Northants have made a steady start, wickets have fallen in a cluster in this game, and their batsmen need to be watchful in the final innings.

    Glamorgan had resumed in the morning at 61 for 1, but soon lost their overnight batsmen to Rory Kleinveldt, who dismissed Jack Murphy and Jacques Rudolph in his opening two overs. Murphy was leg before to Kleinveldt’s fifth ball, then Rudolph, who had been caught from the previous no-ball, drove Kleinveldt to cover.

    Colin Ingram and Kiran Carlson improved Glamorgan’s position with a partnership of 68 for the fourth wicket, with Carlson playing some handsome strokes through the off side, and had made 44 before he gloved a ball from Azharullah on to his stumps.

    Following his dismissal, a heavy shower stopped play with Glamorgan taking an early lunch on 136 for 4. When play resumed, Ingram became Azharullah’s second victim when he had his off stump knocked back, but by careful application Cooke and Andrew Salter put on 71 for the sixth wicket as Glamorgan increased their lead.

    The partnership was broken by Rob Keogh, who got his first ball to turn through the gate and deceive Salter. Cooke, who faced 116 balls and struck nine fours in a watchful innings, top scored with 69, but after his dismissal De Lange attacked the bowling to score 39 - his highest score for Glamorgan - and share 57 in only 9.2 overs with Craig Meschede.

    De Lange faced 38 balls and apart from two fours, struck three huge sixes. Richard Gleeson ended the innings by dismissing De Lange and Meschede, who played an useful innings of 34, with Northants left to face 13 overs before the close.


    Derbyshire put themselves in a position to claim only their second win of the season in the Specsavers County Championship after an attritional third day against Sussex at Hove. They closed on 322/8, a lead of 389 against a Sussex side who will be obliged to chase any target on the final day for a victory to keep their slim promotion hopes alive.

    It has been a collective effort by the Derbyshire batsmen with nine players scoring between 38 and 66 in the match. They included Middlesex loanee Harry Podmore, whose previous highest score was 21 but who was unbeaten on 66 at stumps from 117 balls. He hit five fours and a six off George Garton in the final over.

    Derbyshire’s run rate never got much above four an over throughout the day but, having resumed with a lead of 108 and with nine wickets in hand, they did not need to take risks.

    Sussex kept at it but with their spearhead Jofra Archer showing the effects of a long season and struggling for full pace and a slow pitch blunting the efforts of the rest of their seam, attack the hosts had to work hard for their wickets.

    The big positive for Sussex was Derby-born Stuart Whittingham, who claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in only his third Championship appearance of the season. Whittingham bowled with real venom at times and the yorker which speared into Ben Slater’s stumps after the opener had made 45 would have been too good for most batsmen.

    After lunch Whittingham, who took eight wickets in two games against Derbyshire last season, persuaded Matt Critchley, who played the most fluent strokes of the day in his 51, to pull into the hands of deep mid-wicket when the bowler dropped short before taking two wickets with the second new ball.

    Harvey Hosein demonstrated plenty of resolve but shortly after reaching a 111-ball half-century - one of five in the match by Derbyshire batsmen - with four boundaries before he sliced a full-length ball to backward point.

    Hardus Viljoen (1) was yorked by Whittingham, who had Will Davis caught at mid-wicket for 25 in the penultimate over. But the ease with which Podmore batted suggests that Sussex's batsmen could be in business on the final day.
    With the pitch offering little assistance and no spinner in their attack to offer any variety, it was hard work for the home attack, Whittingham apart.

    Ollie Robinson was rewarded for a good opening spell when Wayne Madsen shuffled in front for 31 while a toe-crushing yorker from Garton was too good for Alex Hughes (14) in the second over after lunch.


    It will take a significant performance of note, with bat or ball, on the final day of this Specsavers’ County Championship game at Nevil Road, to see one of these two sides push on to victory.

    By the close on day three, Gloucestershire, who trailed by a single run on first innings, led visitors Kent by 66 runs thanks to an unbeaten first wicket stand of between Chris Dent and Cameron Bancroft. However, on a Bristol wicket that is hardly full of demons, a draw certainly looks the most likely result.

    The day started brightly for Kent with Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly adding 44 to their side’s overnight total before the former was caught by Gareth Roderick off the bowling of Liam Norwell for 58. It was a deserved wicket for Norwell, who bowled with great accuracy and equal ambition from the Pavilion End.

    Thereafter, however, Denly and fourth wicket partner Sam Northeast carefully extinguished the fears of following on. Batting sensibly against Gloucestershire’s all-seam attack, both players not only looked in decent touch, but duly passed 1000 County Championship runs for the summer too.

    Eventually, they departed within the space of three balls as Gloucestershire, once again, gave themselves an outside chance. Northeast was bowled by Kieran Noema-Barnett for 66 at 210 for 4 and in the very next over, Denly (57) lobbed up a straightforward catch to Gloucestershire captain Phil Mustard, at mid-off, off the bowling of Matt Taylor.

    Zac Crawley and Sam Billings added 54 for the sixth wicket, in decent time, to get Kent’s innings’ back on track, before Crawley was caught off the bowling of Josh Shaw for 10. Billings, who enjoyed his time at the Bristol crease in last season’s fixture between the sides, looked in good touch once again, until he was carelessly run out, for 47, at 283 for 7.

    Norwell, who bowled so well from the Pavilion End before lunch, returned after tea from the opposite end and once again looked lively. He beat the outside edge on numerous occasions before sending back Callum Haggett (8) at 339 for 8.

    It was left to Darren Stevens (65 not out) to successfully guide Kent to the most slender of first innings’ leads. The veteran struck the ball beautifully, to all four corners, as Gloucestershire failed to consolidate on what had been a very healthy position when Billings departed. He added 31 for the ninth wicket with Matt Coles and a further 16 for the final wicket with Mitchell Claydon.

    Gloucestershire, needing to survive until stumps, did so with relative ease, reaching 67 without loss. Dent (41 not out) and Bancroft (25 not out) suffered precious few scares despite the best efforts of the Kent bowlers in the evening sunshine.

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