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  • Specsavers County Championship 9m

    Div Two: Worcs take title as Notts promoted

    Worcestershire wrapped up the Division Two title as promotion rivals Notts also held on to ensure they will play Division One cricket next season

    Northants missed out a return to Division One despite claiming their ninth win of the season, the most for a team that's not secured promotion

    Leicestershire 128 & 270 lost to Northants 202 & 197/4 by 6 wickets
    Sussex 565 & 229/7d drew with Nottinghamshire 477
    Worcestershire 335 & 242/3d beat Durham 208 & 232 by 137 runs
    Gloucestershire 224/2d & 223 lost to Derbyshire 460 & 144/0d by 157 runs

    WORCESTERSHIRE V DURHAM

    Worcestershire put the icing on the cake to a memorable season as they followed up sealing promotion 24 hours earlier by clinching the Division Two title.
     
    Skipper Joe Leach's side clocked up their ninth win in 14 games as they overpowered Durham by 137 runs at New Road - the first Championship win over their opponents for 14 years.
     
    "It's great to go up as champions," said Worcestershire Director of Cricket, Steve Rhodes. "It is tremendous really. I spoke last night about the local talent we've tried to produce and mould into a team.
     
    "But they've done outstandingly well. I can't take anything away from what the players have done and what Joe has done. It has been an amazing effort from them to beat another nine teams in the league.
     
    Durham were set a target of 370 in 76 overs and were bowled out for 232 with overs remaining. Indian star Ravichandran Ashwin capped his spell with the club by finishing with 5-95.
     
    Victory rendered events irrelevant at Hove where Nottinghamshire, the only side who could overhaul Worcestershire going into the finale of the season, fought out a tame draw with Sussex.
     
    It was fitting that the final day of the season featured strong contributions from two of Worcestershire's outstanding performers this summer in former captain Daryl Mitchell and his successor Leach.
     
    Mitchell scored his seventh Championship century of the season - a tally only bettered by Surrey's Kumar Sangakkara - and ended the campaign with 1,266 runs at an average of 55.04.
     
    Then Leach, who has replaced Mitchell at the helm this summer, took his Championship wicket tally to 69 - the highest tally in Division Two - with an early double strike to set his side on their way to victory.
     
    But it has been the ultimate team effort which has seen Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes's side across the finishing line in the four-day format.
     
    Joe Clarke, Brett D'Oliveira, Ben Cox and Ed Barnard have also made sizeable contributions with the bat while paceman Josh Tongue and Barnard have both weighed in with 40 plus wickets apiece in support of Leach.
     
    The contribution of Ashwin on and off the field should also not be under-estimated in helping to restore belief for the final four games after a mid-season blip in the NatWest T20 Blast.
     
    Mitchell helped to set up the declaration after Worcestershire resumed on 157-3. He reached three figures off 134 balls with nine fours and ended undefeated on 123 out of 242-3.
     
    Mitchell was given excellent support by George Rhodes (51 not out) in an unbroken stand of 111 in 24 overs. Leach then got to work with the ball and trapped Cameron Steel (5) and Jack Burnham (11) both lbw before lunch.
     
    Not long later, Ashwin had Keaton Jennings (20) - in his final innings for Durham - pouched by Mitchell at slip. Graham Clark and Paul Collingwood provided staunch resistance in a stand of 88 in 20 overs. But then wickets starting to fall in quick succession.
     
    Ed Barnard removed Collingwood (36) and Clark (62), both leg before, in successive overs and Ashwin returned to dispose of Ryan Pringle who was caught off a top edge at square leg.
     
    By tea Durham had moved onto 148-6 with 33 overs remaining. The end came quickly after the interval.
     
    Leach bowled Michael Richardson (17) and Ashwin removed Liam Trevaskis (9) and Chris Rushworth (0) with successive deliveries. Then Ashwin completed his nap hand when Graham Onions was caught at cover to spark wild scenes of celebration.
     
    SUSSEX V NOTTINGHAMSHIRE


    Nottinghamshire are back in Division One of after they drew their final game against Sussex at Hove. The 12 points they secured were enough to make sure of an immediate return to the top flight after one season along with champions Worcestershire, consigning Northamptonshire to third place. 

    With more than 60 overs lost to rain and bad light during the first three days the chances of a positive result dwindled when there was no play before lunch because of a wet outfield.

    But Sussex captain Luke Wells was determined to finish the season in style, racing to a 97-ball hundred, his fourth of the season. The left-hander hit 13 fours and four sixes as he took his aggregate for the summer to 1,292 runs at an average of 64.60. He finished leading run-scorer in Division Two with only Surrey’s Kumar Sangakkara scoring more Championship runs.

    While he and Harry Finch were putting on 123 at five an over there was the prospect that Sussex might declare and set Nottinghamshire a tempting target.

    But Finch was caught off a top edge for 43 and Samit Patel ended Wells’ innings in his next over when he was bowled playing around a yorker-length delivery.

    By that stage Notts had spinners operating at both ends and four substitute fielders on the pitch including their strength and conditioning coach Ross Herridge.

    Matt Carter picked up three wickets with his off breaks either side of tea. Phil Salt (1) was bowled heaving across the line and top-edges accounted for Chris Nash (1) and Delray Rawlins (0). Patel took a third wicket when wicketkeeper Chris Read took the 1,051st and final match of his 20-year career to dismiss Michael Burgess for 19. 

    Sussex had lost 5 for 24 in eight overs at that stage but Chris Jordan and Jofra Archer added 49 together before Sussex declared on 229 for 7, a lead of 317. 

    Archer had earlier signed a contract extension with Sussex until 2020, having been capped by the county on Wednesday.

    Read was given a standing ovation by the Hove crowd and a guard of honour by both teams when he walked out for the final session of his career and another when he walked off at the end.

    Fittingly he retires after one of the most successful seasons in Nottinghamshire’s history with promotion added to their success in the NatWest T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup.

    LEICESTERSHIRE v NORTHANTS

    Northamptonshire's ninth victory of the season, completed with some ease in benign batting conditions at Grace Road, had a bitter-sweet element for the men from Wantage Road.

    Events at Hove, where Nottinghamshire needed only to draw with Sussex to confirm they would take the second promotion place from Division Two, meant that Northamptonshire finish the season third - and it will be little consolation that no team has made more of its' collective ability.

    "It is frustrating that nine wins isn't enough, especially with the points deducted in Nottingham," Northants head coach Dave Ripley admitted. "We deserved the deduction, but the circumstances were extraordinary.

    "We've got some good players, and they've all contributed, but of there's an area we're looking to improve it's in the batting and turning good scores into big, match-winning scores. We're talking to Luke Procter - we need to recruit someone who can challenge our batters for a spot, and him coming in would do that."

    Perhaps in sympathy, the conditions were very much in favour of the visitors, as has been the case throughout this game. Batting has been at its most difficult in the first hour or so of the morning, when the ball has swung and seamed, so the fact a saturated outfield prevented play starting until 12.40pm was ideal for Northants, who began the day needing another 180 to win with ten second innings wickets in hand.

    By the time play began, a bright sun had taken any menace out of the atmosphere and indeed the pitch. Northants did lose Rob Newton, the opener pushing lazily at a wide delivery from left-arm seamer Dieter Klein to edge a catch behind, but Luke Procter and Alex Wakely added 121 for the second wicket in good time and - an early possible run-out of Wakely aside - without real alarm before Wakley top-edged a pull and was well caught by Sam Evans at deep backward square.

    Two more wickets fell after the break, Richard Levi palpably leg before swishing across the line at Callum Parkinson - the young left-armer very much one of Leicestershire's few positives this season - and Procter, with a hundred very much on the cards, also leg before to a Raine delivery that kept a little low.

    Northants were left to particulalrly run the 5 point deduction suffered after defeat at Trent Bridge earlier this month for a slow over-rate. Without that, Northants would have finished level on points with Notts - and ahead of them on wins.

    GLOUCESTERSHIRE V DERBYSHIRE

    Derbyshire finished their Championship season on a high, beating Gloucestershire by 157 runs at the Brightside Ground, Bristol.

    Imran Tahir picked up five wickets and Matt Critchley and Harry Podmore two apiece as the visitors completed victory with more than 21.3 overs to spare. It was a disappointing end to the summer for Gloucestershire who, to their credit, had agreed to making a game of it by declaring on their overnight score of 224 for 2.


    Gloucestershire then gifted Derbyshire 144 runs, in their second innings, to set up a second innings chase in a minimum of 80 overs. In pursuit of 381 to win, they suffered an early blow when Benny Howell (5) was caught behind by off the bowling of Podmore at 9 for 1 in the fourth over. Thereafter, they struggled against a Derbyshire attack led, before lunch, by seamers Podmore and Hardus Viljoen. Podmore then picked up his second wicket at 42 for 2 when he had Chris Dent caught behind, for 19.

    The game gathered pace after lunch as Gloucestershire fought to establish a position of strength and Derbyshire, with equal purpose, did their bit to keep themselves in with a chance of bowling out their hosts. And they did that by swapping their seamers for spinners.

    Imran Tahir was the catalyst for Derbyshire – the leg spinner taking three wickets in the game’s penultimate session to put Derbyshire back on top.

    James Bracey, who played well for 44, was the first to fall. The talented left hander, who scored an unbeaten 82 in the first innings, chanced his arm once too often and was caught at deep mid-wicket off the bowling of Tahir.

    Tahir then caught Hankins off his won bowling at 135 for 4, before trapping Jack Taylor lbw for 3, at 147 for 5. Gloucestershire had agreed to go for the target, regardless of what position they found themselves in. So, it was no surprise when Kieran Noema-Barnett opened his shoulders and struck six boundaries in quick fire time.

    Sadly, for Gloucestershire, he perished for 30 at 180 for 6 and it was left to Phil Mustard to shoulder his side’s hopes. At tea, Gloucestershire were 197 for 6, needing another 184 for victory.

    Their feint hopes disappeared shortly after tea when captain Mustard was bowled by Matt Critchley for 37. It was a long walk back to the pavilion for Mustard, who understandably fancied his chance of at least taking the game to the wire.

    David Payne was next to fall, caught at slip by Wayne Madsen off the bowling of Critchley for 0, and Josh Shaw followed for 1, bowled shouldering arms to a ball that spun back from Tahir.

    Derbyshire wound up matters when Tahir picked up his fifth wicket when trapping Matt Taylor lbw at 233 all out. And that was that.

    Derbyshire's Gary Wilson said: "It's great to finish with another win, it really is. In fact we were unlucky at Notts, so we might have finished the season with four compared with no wins last season.

    "It's hard for me to talk about last season because I wasn't at the club. However, I can say that I am looking forward to next season."

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