Rain ruled the final days action in the Specsavers County Championship with only two matches reaching a positive conclusion.
Yorkshire ducked and dived the weather to go top of Division One after comprehensively beating Surrey by an innings. The reigning champions, who owed much to Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow’s magnificent match-winning record partnership on day two wrapped up the win with just four overs remaining on the final day. After losing a few overs in the morning due to rain, the hosts knew that they had to take 10 wickets in 84 overs in the day to overtake Nottinghamshire. They were also a bowler light with David Willey likely to miss six-weeks with an abdominal injury, they found an unlikely hero though to replace the left-armer in spinner Root who removed the dangerous Kumar Sangakkara (61) and Steve Davies (52) to turn the tie in Yorkshires favour. The Sri Lankan was the first to fall to the England man caught in the covers by Gary Ballance to fall for another well-made half-century, but unfortunately, for the visitors he couldn’t see the game through and his departure caused a mini-collapse. Jason Roy fell soon after finding Adil Rashid at mid-wicket off the bowling of Jack Brooks before Root returned to remove the other set batsman in Davies leg before to leave the visitors in all sorts of trouble at 151/5. They then started to do the rain dance in the dressing room and it nearly paid off as the hosts lost a further four overs after tea, but it didn’t stop the Tykes, as Steven Patterson (3-15) and Brooks (3-65) removed the lower order before Liam Plunkett finished the game off by trapping last man Matt Dunn LBW for 2 to leave the hosts to collect maximum points.
The only other winners in round five of the Championship were Yorkshire’s near rivals Lancashire who also claimed a mammoth win to climb to second in the table. The Red Rose claimed an innings win over injury-struck Hampshire to claim 23 important points. The newly promoted hosts did the bulk of the work on Day One dismissing their south-coast rivals for just 109 but they were left frustrated by the weather on Day Three, but in overcast conditions, the host secured a comfortable victory to keep the pressure up on their local rivals. With an attack that boasts the likes of James Anderson and Neil Wagner, it was spinner Simon Kerrigan who stole the headlines. The former England left-arm spinner claimed figures of 5-59 to guide his team to an innings and 94-run success. He used his guile, class and brain to out-think his opponent as his used flight and turn to dismiss the Hampshire lower order. He did claim the vital wicket of Adam Wheater (47) – who had threatened to frustrated Lancashire, but when he departed any hopes of a draw disappeared with him. James Anderson claimed the important early scalp of skipper James Vince for 47, but Will Smith (45) and Wheater batted through 20 overs together before Smith fell leg before to Kyle Jarvis to bring an end to his vigilant 203-ball stay at the crease. After Wheater went the final five-wickets fell quickly after as Kerrigan bamboozled the tail with some clever bowling, he wrapped the match up by having youngster Mason Crane caught sweeping to claim his 12th five-wicket haul. The win gave the hosts 23 points to leave them just one adrift of rivals Yorkshire going into Round six of the County Championship.
Elsewhere, rain ruined a potentially exciting final day at Edgbaston as a second consecutive washout meant Warwickshire and Somerset were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Likewise, at Lords rain ensured that no play was possible on the final day as Nottinghamshire and Middlesex were left frustrated. Middlesex, in particular, were searching for the first win of the season, but in truth after losing the third day as well due to rain it would’ve had to have been very manufactured to muster up a positive result. The London-club though do remain unbeaten after drawing all their games.
In Division Two, it was much the same story as the poor weather continued to frustrated counties up and down the country.
Play started at 16.30 at Grace Road as Leicestershire searched for an unlikely victory that would’ve seen the host leapfrog Essex. Declaring immediately in a bid to secure that win, the Foxes enjoyed a dream start dismissing Ben Duckett for a second-ball duck, Clint McKay with the wicket to continue his fine start to the season, but as the light began to fade as did the game as the umpires dragged the players off after just seven-overs of action.
Promotion favourites Sussex remain winless after only 26-and-a-half overs were possible on the final day in Derby to leave the South-coast club frustrated. In a bid to strike an unlikely final-day victory the visitors declared overnight with a lead of 277. Searching for early wickets they struggled to break down a resilient Chesney Hughes (58*) and Billy Godleman (16) as the pair shared 79 for the first-wicket. The hosts then lost two quick wickets but like in Leicester the light soon brought a premature end to the game to leave both sides winless thus far this season.
Worcestershire must feel like the rain is following them this season as they lost their sixth full day of play due to rain. After their first match of the season against Kent was completely washed out the Pears have now lost 729 overs of play so far this season. Today in Cardiff became another frustrating day in the changing room for Daryl Mitchell’s men who had gained the early initiative. Brett D’Oliveria had struck a double-ton earlier in the game before the hosts fell to 42/4 but that was to be all she wrote, as only 140.2 overs were possible in the match.
Finally, Gloucestershire survived an almighty scare on the final day to secure a nerve-jangling draw against Kent. With no play possible before lunch, Kent declared with a lead of 141 on first innings. Calum Haggett continued to enjoy the early season conditions at Canterbury to rip through the middle order to claim figures of 3-13 to give the hosts a sniff of victory with 21-overs left in the day requiring just four-wickets to secure a second win of the season. The impressive Jack Taylor (46*) and David Payne (20*) shared a vital unbeaten half-century stand to ensure the visitors would be returning to Bristol with a share of the spoils ending the game on 211/8.
Reports by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
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