In the big promotion clash in Division Two, we're going down to the wire...
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE v NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Just 25.3 overs were possible on day three at Wantage Road as little progress was made in the key meeting of Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two promotion race. Notts moved to 107 for 3 chasing 314 with the match perfectly poised for the final day.
UPDATE | Sadly the umpires have decided that there will be no further play at The County Ground today. Play will resume at 10:30 tomorrow— NCCC (@NorthantsCCC) 21 September 2017
Notts resumed 33 for 2 and made an excellent start with 43 runs coming in the opening 11 overs of play, most of them provided by Luke Wood who extended his excellent contribution to the game.
After a first-innings 44 and eight wickets, he again made useful runs the morning after arriving as nightwatchman. He briskly went to 44 once more, surviving a series of plays-and-misses and a chance that may just have carried to mid-off diving forward. But trying to pull Nathan Buck in his first over of the morning, got a top-edge that Alex Wakely took running back from mid-off.
It was the only success of a shortened morning for a rather luckless Northants attack. Ben Sanderson in particular probed away and beat the bat with regularity only to walk in wicketless at lunch. Jake Libby battled through the session, taking his overnight 6 to 30 not out. He and Cheteshwar Pujara will resume on day four with 207 more runs needed for a victory that will seal Notts’ promotion.
DURHAM v SUSSEX
Sussex youngster Phil Salt gave his side the chance of a final day victory against Durham at Chester-le-Street with a classy innings of 72.
In only his seventh first-class match the 21-year-old Wales-born right-hander batted very responsibly after a cavalier start as Sussex totalled 302 in their second innings. Needing 264 to win, Durham had faced three of the scheduled nine overs when bad light intervened. The out-of-form Keaton Jennings took the score to five with Tom Latham, who would have been lbw second ball had Chris Jordan not over-stepped.
Salt said: “Hopefully that will make people see me in a different light because I don't want to be just a one-day player. It's hard watching from the sidelines and it's been massively frustrating, so it's good to have this opportunity."
Sussex, who trailed by 39 in the first innings, slipped from 101 without loss to 177 for five. But Salt, who had a previous best of 46, scored 11 off his first four balls and was ably assisted by wicketkeeper Michael Burgess, Ollie Robinson and Jordan.
Salt's was the second career-best of the day following Brydon Carse's unbeaten 61 for Durham. Resuming on 21, the South Africa-born paceman picked up both Stuart Whittingham and George Garton behind square for six. He dominated a stand of 84 with Graham Clark, who moved on from his overnight 73 to 88 before a ball from Jordan skidded on to have him lbw.
When Jordan rested it took only one gentle loosener for Robinson to complete a five-wicket haul. Chris Rushworth clipped it straight to square leg but Robinson, who had a sore side the previous evening after bowling 25 overs, sent down just the one more to finish with five for 69.
Jordan had two for 77 from 31, while Garton and Whittingham were twice as expensive, conceding more than five an over. Whittingham picked up his only wicket when last man Graham Onions spooned to extra cover and Durham were all out for 385.
The lead was quickly wiped out by Sussex's acting captain Luke Wells and Harry Finch, who had 50 on the board in 11 overs to lunch and looked even more comfortable in adding a further 50. Both were playing away from their bodies with limited foot movement when they edged catches. Finch was first to go for 37, James Weighell claiming the first of his three wickets with his second ball.
Following his 258 at Hove and 122 in the first innings here, Wells again batted impressively to make 58 and take his season's tally against Durham to 438. Laurie Evans made only four before edging a loose shot off Weighell, who bowled well for five overs before straying in the next two. His seventh cost 15 and gave Salt his flying start.
Luke Wright fell lbw to the first ball of off-spinner Ryan Pringle's second spell, a long hop which barely left the ground to defeat an attempted pull. Stiaan van Zyl was also unlucky, being caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Michael Richardson off Onions after cruising to 45.
Salt was eighth out when he got a big inside edge into his stumps trying to run Jennings to third man. Jordan's attempts to protect the last two proved futile as left-hander Garton was bowled by a sharp leg break from Cameron Steel and Whittingham was run out when called back for a second to deep mid-wicket.
GLAMORGAN v GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Glamorgan ended the third day with a lead of 102 with 96 overs left in the game against Gloucestershire in Specsavers County Championship Division Two.
The highlight of the day was a record breaking partnership by Benny Howell and 20yr old James Bracey - with both batsmen achieving career best scores. Glamorgan are unlikely to leave a generous target, so an exciting final day of the season at Cardiff is also unlikely, unless the two captains can contrive a result.
Youngster Bracey said: "It was great to get the first hundred, and Benny Howell was a great help. It was tough to start but it was one of those pitches that when you got in it became easier.”
After 24 overs were lost to rain at the start of the day, Benny Howell and James Bracey continued to pile on the runs on a desperately slow pitch that continued to frustrate the Glamorgan attack. Howell quickly scored the four runs he needed to score the second century of his career and also pass the 102 he scored against Leicestershire two years ago.
Bracey was more initially more watchful in his approach, but after passing fifty, he began to accelerate and after facing 142 balls and hitting 14 fours and two sixes, reached the first century in only his fifth first class game, and third in the County Championship.
The second wicket pair then passed the previous highest stand for the second wicket against Glamorgan, set by Alf Dipper and Harry Smith at the St Helen’s ground in Swansea in 1921, but shortly afterwards, after a partnership of 240, Howell was LBW to Michael Hogan. Two balls later, Hogan, armed with the new ball, struck again, when George Hankin had his off stump knocked back.
Phil Mustard the joined Bracey, playing many of his trademark strokes through the offside, and they had put on 59 before Mustard, attempting to force Marchant De Lange off the back foot, edged a catch to second slip.
Any thoughts that Gloucestershire might have declared when Mustard departed and had gathered four batting points, were dispelled when Jack Taylor and Kieran Noema-Barnett came in, but neither made any impression, as Taylor nicked off to slip, and Noema-Barnett had his off bail trimmed.
Bracey’s vigil, which had lasted six and quarter hours, eventually ended when he holed out at long on, as Gloucestershire made a pig’s ear to trying to get the final batting point. Glamorgan had 13 overs to face at the end of the day, and they lost Connor Brown to David Payne, before closing on 63 for 1.