Kent were the only winners in the County Championship as batsmen continued to dominate in the early season fixtures.
An incredible final day at Trent Bridge saw Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire battling all day in a real ding-dong encounter. The hosts set the defending Champions 320 to win inside two sessions. Earlier, Chris Read struck a deserved century to help the Outlaws to recover from 151/5 to 348 all out. He struck 14 fours and three sixes in his 101, as he shared partnerships with Stuart Broad (55), Jake Ball (22) and Jackson Bird (23) as Nottingham set up a thrilling end to the game. Yorkshire’s reply got off to the worst possible start losing opener Adam Lyth to Ball in the first over, although he will once again be disappointed by the umpires decision as he appeared to avoid to miss the ball, but the umpire triggered him as he attempted to clip the ball off his legs. Alex Lees and Gary Ballance (43) saw the visitors through to tea with the total on 64/1. But just as the game looked to be meandering to a draw, the Tykes accelerated in the evening session looking to secure an unlikely win. Jonny Bairstow (35), Joe Root (27) and the brilliant Lees (107) all added impetus to the Yorkshire charge, but their aggressive intent almost proved to be their downfall. They lost regular wickets as the day drew to a close, thanks largely to a classy spell from Harry Gurney (4-53). Needing two wickets from the final over, Broad struck with the fourth ball pinning Steven Patterson leg before, that left Jack Brooks with the task of seeing out the final two balls. The first he nicked through the gully for four, the final ball, with Broad tearing in the headband wearing bowler blocked the final ball out to secure a nerve-jangling draw.
A brilliant unbeaten century from veteran Somerset opener Marcus Trescothick led the West Country club to a comfortable draw at Taunton. Resuming on nought without loss after Lancashire enforced the follow-on nightwatchman Tim Groenewald fell early to give the Red Rose a crucial early scalp. The tail-ender saw his off-stump go cartwheeling towards Alex Davies behind the sticks as Kyle Jarvis nipped one back into the right-hander. That brought traditional opener Tom Abell to the crease, and he played stoically for his 10, showing his strong defensive game as the hosts chased a draw. He eventually fell after 34-balls in the middle offering up a caught and bowled chance to Simon Kerrigan, the spinner duly took the catch to leave the hosts in trouble at 61/2. But the experienced duo of Trescothick and new skipper Chris Rogers ensured that was to be the final scare of the day. The former England opener looked mightily impressive in his 254-ball stay as he batted all day to secure a share of the spoils for Somerset, he struck 17 fours to help to complete a 60th first-class century. Rogers at the other end was patient and calm to make a telling contribution for the hosts striking an unbeaten 75 including eight fours as the duo shared an unbroken stand of 168 for the third wicket. With the game meandering towards a draw, the two skippers shook hands at ten to five to signal an inevitable end.
There was a similar fate at the Ageas Bowl, although the host briefly sensed victory after a quick clatter of wickets gave them a glimmer of hope. Resuming on 76/1 the hosts knew they would need to bat throughout the majority of the day to secure a positive outcome, whilst the visitors were on the hunt for quick wickets to secure an unlikely victory. And they got one when the impressive Toby Roland-Jones removed James Vince for 38. And when Will Smith fell to Tim Murtagh there was genuine hope for the London club. But the reliable pair of Jimmy Adams and Liam Dawson took the hosts through to lunch without any further alarm. Indeed, Adams was at the crease for 164-balls in his innings of 70, his stay included eight fours. England’s Steven Finn briefly gave the visitors hope striking to remove both Dawson and Adams in quick succession, but Adam Wheater (57 not out) and Ryan McLaren (46 not out) guided the Southampton based club through to tea which prompted Vince to declare with the score on 290/5. That left Middlesex with the task of chasing 265 for an unlikely victory inside on session, and that looked even more unlikely when they lost both openers cheaply, Sam Robson fell to Tino Best to give the West Indian a first Hampshire wicket before Nick Gubbins fell to the bowling of James Tomlinson. Dawid Malan, fresh from his ton in the first innings alongside Nick Compton ensured there were to be no further dramas seeing the visitors to an agreed draw just after 5pm.
The third draw of round four of the Specsavers County Championship Division One came at the Oval. There was more joy for England seamer Ben Stokes who produced a beautiful spell of bowling to briefly give the visitors hope of an unlikely victory after Paul Collingwood had earlier guided Durham to a lead of 150. Collingwood completed his 32nd first-class century to lead the visitors into a position of safety in the match. He struck eleven fours and a six before the visitors declared on 607/7. Stokes then took centre stage taking three quick wickets to leave the hosts struggling on 65/3 and still 85 runs in arrears. The England all-rounder removed Rory Burns (28), Arun Harinath (18) and dangerman Kumar Sangakkara (14) in a deadly 16-ball master class. Jason Roy (34), Steven Davies (32), Ben Foakes (36 not out) and a vital half-century from Thomas Curran ensured the hosts secured a share of the spoils as hands were shook at 5.43pm to bring an end to this seesaw encounter.
In Division Two, Thomas Kohler-Cadmore struck a vital century to ensure Worcestershire avoided the follow-on against Essex. Continuing the day on 226/5 the hosts still required 76-runs to avoid the follow-on and Ben Cox alongside the impressive Kohler-Cadmore helped the New Road club to safety. In truth, once the hosts avoid that fate the match was only going to go one way. Kohler-Cadmore struck some hefty blows to reach a deserved hundred and guide the Pears to extra batting points before Matt Henry became the last man to fall before the hosts declared on 411-8 with maximum bonus points secured. That left Essex with time to bat out the rest of the day, and despite the early loss of Nick Browne caught off the bowling of Ed Barnard the Eagles comfortably secured the draw. England skipper Alastair Cook enjoyed further time in the middle striking an unbeaten 48 before hands were shook at ten to five to signal an inevitable draw. Both sides took 12 points, as the Eagles remain top of the tree in Division two.
Meanwhile, Kent raced to a ten-wicket win against Glamorgan on the final day of their Specsavers County Championship Division Two clash. Requiring just 187 to win and resuming on 22 without loss, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Tom Latham (on debut) eased the hosts to their first success of the summer breaking a county record in the process. The pair became only the third opening duo to share back-to-back century stands and the first since 1954. After posting 131 in the first innings the openers shared 190 in the second to guide their team home to a comprehensive win at Canterbury. Bell-Drummond, who is knocking on the England door top scored striking an unbeaten 86 to continue his early season form whilst New Zealander Latham, making his Kent debut struck an unbeaten 79 to lead the hosts to 190/0 and a simple win over the Welsh County an hour after Lunch.
Elsewhere, Leicestershire were left frustrated by Chris Nash as they looked to secure another victory. Resuming on 113/0 still some way off the visitor’s first innings efforts the hosts knew they had a mammoth task in front of them if they were to avoid defeat. The experienced Nash took it on his shoulders to ensure the hosts wouldn’t be left embarrassed, as the pre-season favourites have struggled to get going thus far. He struck a magnificent 144 to guide his team to safety; his stay included 21 fours before Ben Raine brought his herculean effort to an end. On a flattish track it was always going to prove tricky for the plucky Foxes to take the ten-wickets required on the final day, and when Sussex bowlers Ollie Robinson (25 not out) and Ajmal Shahzad battled bravely for 15 overs Mark Cosgrove called it a day and settled for a draw with the hosts on 377/6.
There was another high-scoring draw in the fixture between Northamptonshire and Derbyshire at the County Ground. There were two centurions on the day, as firstly Richard Levi scored the fourteen runs he required on the fourth morning to go through to a well-deserved ton. He has led his side to a comfortable position before becoming the last man to fall with the total on 470 – a lead of 146. That brought openers Chesney Hughes and skipper Billy Godleman to the middle looking to secure a draw for the visitors. Hughes, who has enjoyed early season form rarely looked troubled as he reached his second ton of the summer ending proceedings unbeaten on 109 after sharing an unbroken stand of 215 with his opening partner who made 94 before becoming the only man to fall. By then though they led comfortably, and the players called it a day at 4.50 to end the game as a tame draw.
Reports by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
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