Despite the sun finally appearing in game week four of the County Championship, early rain in the week meant only one result was achieved on final days action.
In the Rose's match, Peter Handscomb struck a memorable quick-fire century but it was all in the name of entertainment as the match had petered to a draw long before the Australian smashed Lancashire to all parts of Old Trafford. In truth, the moment Ryan McLaren (84) and Stephen Parry had taken the hosts passed the follow-on total this game was as good as confirmed as a share of the spoils. McLaren, Simon Kerrigan (59) and Tom Bailey (40) had some fun in the Manchester sun though to boost the Red Rose passed 400 and put the hosts in a no lose position. Indeed, it left Lees and Handscomb the task of entertaining the sparse crowd with some hard hitting. Lyth missed out on the fun after seeing his stumps disturbed by Kerrigan for nine to become the only man to fall. Handscomb rushed to his ton though seemingly wanting to get an early dart back to Headingley smashing 12-fours and a six during his 77-ball stay at the crease. Lees meanwhile was slightly more sedate striking eight-fours and a six in his unbeaten knock of 62. All that was left was for the Australian to pick up his Roses ton and shortly after he raised his bat, the players shook hands and trudged off with a share of the spoils. The visitors finished on 177/1 picking up nine points whilst Lancashire claimed 10.
Another century maker was veteran opener Marcus Trescothick, the former England opener single-handedly saved the game for Somerset as Warwickshire finally showed signs of life in this Championship Campaign. In this rain-affected encounter, the hosts began the final day in a spot of bother on 94/4 with all hopes hanging on Somerset's favourite son. And Tresco didn't disappoint, the hard-hitting opener struck eleven fours on his way to a vital century but he couldn't save his side from avoiding the follow-on with only Peter Trego (52) offering any sort of support. Grant Thornton (4-34) and the ever-reliable Rikki Clarke (3-29) were the picks of the Warwickshire attack as the visitors dismissed their hosts for 230, and then promptly invited the West Country club to bat again in the hope for an unlikely success on the road. That hope was boosted when they struck early through Sukhjit Singh, but that man Trescothick stood firmly in their way. The opener finished unbeaten on 46 as he and skipper Tom Abell (35 not out) steadied the ship to ensure the points would be shared in Taunton.
In Division Two, Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach was the hero for the Pears as they hurried to a final day success over Derbyshire. Leach took 5-32 as the hosts were dismissed for a paltry 98 on a final day collapse that the Derbyshire faithful would sooner forget. Shiv Thakor (4-45) and Jeevan Mendis (4-98) had earlier rushed through the Worcestershire middle order to ensure the visitors didn't run away with the game as the Pears declared on 415/9. The clatter of wickets in the morning session was a sign of things to come as Derbyshire never threatened to save the game, Their top order was blown away by Ed Barnard and Leach as they slumped to 18/4 before collapsing further to a shocking 59/8 with skipper Leach running through the middle order quickly. Only the unlikely duo of Tony Palladino (28) and Tom Taylor (9) offered any real long-term resistance but they could only lead the total to two shy of a team hundred as Nathan Lyon finished the match off removing Palladino to take the Pears to an innings and 42-run success on a memorable final day for the visitors.
The other two finished encounters ended in a draw with Kent and Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire and Glamorgan forced to share the spoils.
In Cardiff, Chris Cooke and Colin Ingram batting all day to rescue the hosts an unlikely draw the jaws of defeat. The duo met at the crease last evening with the total on 194/5 with the Outlaws looking likely to wrap up yet another innings success. But Cooke and Ingram had other ideas as they guts and gritted their way through the final day. The pair both made deserved centuries with Ingram finishing on an unbeaten 155 hitting 14-fours during his mammoth 427-ball stay at the crease, whilst Cooke struck 17-fours and a six in his unbeaten 113. It was a heroic effort from the pair who shared 226-runs for the sixth wicket to frustrate the visitors as England's Stuart Broad went wicketless.
Meanwhile, Darren Stevens struck another century to continue his fine early season form as Kent drew at Grace Road with Leicestershire. The veteran all-rounder struck exactly 100 before falling to Tom Wells. His innings included 15-fours and a six in a typically aggressive knock which was hit at more than a run-a-ball. He was well supported by wicket-keeper Adam Rouse who reached a fifty before falling just ten runs later. Matt Coles (56 not out) and James Tredwell (55) added some late runs to ensure the Spitfires were in a position where they couldn't lose the game. But in reality but for a freak occurrence the draw was almost the most likely outcome. The experienced Paul Horton ensured that there would be no late scares by making a patient and assured 40 before becoming the first man to fall with the score on 57. The fall of Harry Dearden for 17 signalled the end of the game as the players shook hands and called it a day with the points shared.
In the only ongoing game in game-week four, Sussex took control of their encounter with Durham at Hove following a stunning double century from Luke Wells. The Sussex top-order batsman shared a massive 376-run third wicket stand with Stiaan Van Zyl as the hosts began to bat their Northern visitors out of the game. Van Zyl struck a century of his own to close Day Two unbeaten on 144 hitting 15-fours and a six as Durham toiled in the South Coast sunshine. And nobody enjoyed the sunshine more that Wells who smashed 34-fours and seven sixes on his way to a career-best 258 as he helped the hosts to a 452/4 at close on the second day a lead of 165. Durham will hope for early wickets on the third morning if they have any chance of salvaging anything from their trip to the coast.
N.B. Middlesex v Surrey report at the bottom of Cricky's brilliant column on Kumar Sangakkara.
Reports are written by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
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