August 18, 2012

LV= County Championship, Saturday August 18

6.45pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

6.45pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

In the end, it was Durham who took the spoils. They declined to use the new ball but winkled Nottinghamshire's last four out in any event, Scott Borthwick removing Paul Franks and Graeme White before Mark Wood, the all-rounder in his second Championship match, completed the job by bowling Luke Fletcher and trapping Andy Carter leg before after Ben Phillips had holed out to midwicket.

He finished with 5-78, Durham move on to 107 points after three wins in a row, which puts them 20 points clear of the bottom two. Nottinghamshire have 144 points, and while they have still to play Warwickshire, the leaders, at home and away, they are 18 points behind, while the Edgbaston team have four matches left to their three. Full report to follow...

5.30pm: Nottinghamshire v Durham

It is looking more and more likely that this match will end in a draw now. With 11 overs left and the new ball due in one over's time, 64 runs are still needed. Graeme White just smashed Mark Wood past point for four but only four wickets remain and a couple of blows from Graham Onions with the shiny spheroid would put paid to Nottinghamshire's ambitions.

5.35pm: Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Derbyshire

The two sides have shaken hands on an entertaining draw with 14 overs remaining. Derbyshire reached 190 for five, 38 runs ahead, with Usman Khawaja finishing unbeaten on 110 and claim six more points towards the division two title while Yorkshire claimed 11 points. A full report will follow.

4.05pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

Surrey have won by eight runs, with Gareth Batty getting Toby Roland-Jones lbw to jubilant scenes. That’s a huge victory in the context of their fight to avoid relegation – it’s also sweet revenge for their three-run defeat at Lord’s in April. Will have a proper report on an enthralling final day up later.

4pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

All quiet across the road (Forest 0 Bristol City 0), in the balance here. Notts lost two wickets in the run-up to tea when Michael Lumb, on the sweep, top edged and was taken by Mark Wood at short fine leg. Then Adam Voges, who has had a disappointing match, was caught behind by a diving Phil Mustard during the best spell Graham Onions has managed thus far, getting the ball to move a bit more in the air than earlier today.

Yet Notts are still favourites for the moment. They need 136 from 35 overs. Alex Hales is two runs away from a first hundred of the season, but he and Steven Mullaney need to steady themselves. A couple of quick wickets and Durham will be right in the hunt.

3.40pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

On and on Middlesex’s last wicket pair bat, perhaps helped by Gareth Batty waiting ten overs until the second new ball – which has been given to the spinners rather than Jade Dernbach and Tim Linley. Batty set extremely negative fields, expecting one of the batsmen to get themselves out. But so far it hasn’t materialised, and Middlesex are now only 20 runs away. Tim Murtagh and Toby Roland-Jones have now added a total of 81 for the last wicket in the match.

3.05pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

Almost immediately after my last update both set batsmen were dismissed, including Steven Crook to a Jade Dernbach slower ball. However, Tim Murtagh and Toby Roland-Jones – as they showed in adding 44 for the last wicket in the first innings – are a very competent last-wicket pair. They’ve added 24 so far, despite a number of lbw appeals, and Middlesex need 33 more to win. And I’m perilously close to pressing ctrl alt delete on my existing report, written at lunch with the presumption that Surrey would win.

2.25pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

It’s looking like I might have spoken too soon, with Steven Crook playing a brilliant innings for Middlesex. Adam Rossington has been rather less daring in his strokeplay – his strike-rate is 27 to Crook’s 81 – but the two have added 96 for the eighth wicket so far. Middlesex now need only 57 more to win.

What’s changed from the morning? The main thing is the ball – it’s the same one, but as it’s got older the bounce, instrumental in several earlier wickets, has got much less. Jade Dernbach is now on to try and get some reverse swing. Murali Kartik has bowled all day and is starting to tire. If Surrey lose this game, you have to think they’d find it very hard to recover.

2.20pm: Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Derbyshire

All this talk of overseas players has brought us around to Yorkshire, who are now operating without one ever since Mitchell Starc was recalled by Australia for their forthcoming series against Pakistan. Of course they do still have Phil Jaques, the former Australian Test batsman, in their ranks, but he qualifies as a British passport holder. Given that his mother hails from Sheffield originally, he is almost a Yorkshireman anyway.

On the field, Derbyshire’s overseas recruit Usman Khawaja has helped forge a 71-run stand with Will Durston to take his English county to 89 for two, still trailing by 62 runs after following on. There did not appear to be much reaction in the crowd to the disappointing news that Jonny Bairstow had failed to score his century in the Test, but that may have been partly because of the consistently muffled public address announcements at Headingley.

1.50pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

Middlesex have recovered somewhat, with Steven Crook playing with controlled aggression. He is now on 37, including a slog sweep for six off Murali Kartik, and has put on 49 with Adam Rossington so far. Hacks were rather worried Surrey were going to win before lunch – depriving them of a sedate lunch as we’d have to rush off to get quotes – but these two have instead given Middlesex a little hope of victory once more. Not that much though, as 105 more are still needed.

Carrying on the chat about potential overseas players, what about Devandra Bishoo? He has a nice googly and turns his legspinner significantly too but is not needed for the World T20 squad. Or, if you’re looking for a batsman, how about the newly available VVS Laxman?

1.30pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

Kevin Pietersen's hundred in the first innings in that match at New Road (see previous bulletin) was the second of 19 in four years for Notts in first-class matches. Batsman and county may have parted on poor terms but Trent Bridge easily saw the best of him as a county player.

Nottinghamshire are 94 without loss at lunch, which is as good a position as they could have hoped for chasing 366 to win. There are 65 overs left in the match.

Also in their favour is that the pitch appears to have flattened out and even Graham Onions is not getting much out of it. He has bowled seven overs for 19 runs so far and the only damage he has done has been to Riki Wessels's bat, knocking a chunk off it in his opening over. The replacement has worked quite, well, though. He is 66 not out with Alex Hales 28 from 50 balls after taking a more cautious approach then usual.

Durham will need a performance from their leg-spinner, Scott Borthwick, this afternoon. As one of my colleagues from Durham remarked, bring back Ian Blackwell.

12.35pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

Although 366 from 90 overs might seem like a tall target, especially with Graham Onions steaming in, Nottinghamshire have been this way before. In fact, they have twice scored 400-plus in the fourth innings to win the game.

The highest of all came back in 2001 in a Division Two fixture at New Road, Worcester, in late June. Notts, who had not won a match all season, trailed by 88 on first innings after being bowled out for 160, of which some guy called Kevin Pietersen made 103 not out.

That happened on the opening day, when 20 wickets fell. Worcestershire then batted all of the second day and a little of the third, piling up 369 all out on the back of 192 from Phil Weston. This left Notts to chase 458 to win.

It seemed an unlikely proposition. Notts had the best part of two days at their disposal, yet they needed to exceed the 75-year-old county record for the fourth innings by 38 runs.

Astonishingly, they pulled it off -- by seven wickets with two sessions to spare. Greg Blewett, who had a first-innings duck, made 134 not out, Darren Bicknell 104, John Morris 94 and Usman Afzaal 88. Pietersen, who had turned 21 two days before the match began, was not required.

At 72-0 after 18 overs today, then, Notts must be feeling rather confident. Riki Wessels has a 50 from 70 balls. He and Alex Hales have seen off Onions (5-0-14-0) for the moment. Just another 294 to get.

12.30pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

Just had a rather unusual dismissal here – chest before wicket. Well it goes does as lbw in the book, but Andrew Balbirnie was so far forward trying to sweep Murali Kartik that the ball struck him on the chest as he was falling over: it looked plumb from the press box.

Since my last update Neil Dexter has also fallen: the second man today to be caught to Kartik at legslip off Gareth Batty trying to turn the ball to leg. And now there’s another wicket! Jason Roy has taken one of the catches of the season, diving to his left at slip to claim Dawid Malan: it's Batty's fifth wicket of the innings. The jubilant Surrey celebrations tell are those of a side who think they’ve won – and with Middlesex requiring another 151 with just three wickets left, they will be proved right.

As guildfordbat rightly points out below the line, the difference in spin bowling is the overwhelming reason Middlesex look likely to lose this match. There have been innumerable appeals and narrow misses in the 90 minutes of play so far today. Oh, and just the six wickets too.

12pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

Gareth Batty is bowling superbly here. He has already claimed two wickets this morning – Tom Smith caught at legslip and Joe Denly, who has just been dismissed lbw. That was an important wicket, because Denly and Dawid Malan had put on 43 very elegant and well-compiled runs. With turn becoming more pronounced, Surrey could have this wrapped up before the football (am I allowed to mention that?) starts at 3pm.

On another note, are there any useful overseas signings still to be made? Imran Tahir hasn't been picked for South Africa's T20 games against England or their World T20 squad: he has shown before that there are few spinners better at winning county games in September.

11.45am: Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Derbyshire

At this stage of the season, when teams are vying for position at the top and bottom of each division, almost every decision and twist and turn appears pivotal. It would be hard, though, to discount just how influential the run out of David Wainwright this morning at Headingley could be to the fortunes of both Yorkshire and Derbyshire come the end of the summer.

Resuming the final day needing a further 38 to avoid the follow on with two wickets remaining, Derbyshire appeared to have exploited Yorkshire’s strange decision not to take the new ball and give the first six overs to spin, in the shape of Azeem Rafiq and Adil Rashid, which cost 25 runs.

Having reached within 11 of saving the follow on, however, Wainwright guided the third delivery with the new ball from Ryan Sidebottom to fine leg and called for a two, but was unable to beat Steve Patterson’s throw from the boundary.

Six balls later, Tim Bresnan ended Derbyshire’s innings with a lifting ball that Tim Groenewald edged behind to ensure they missed the follow on by only three runs. They began their second innings 152 runs adrift with the promotion chances of both sides hinging on how well Derbyshire bat for the remainder of the day.

11.15am: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham Durham are taking no chances with their declaration. They led by 341 overnight, which probably gave Graham Onions more than enough room to bowl Notts out anyway but Paul Collingwood plainly decided to have a few more swings, just to top up the lead and trim off a few overs.

As if to lead by example, Collingwood slog-swept Graeme White, the left-arm spinner, over mid-wicket for six. But he stepped across his stumps to the next delivery, intent on paddling it round the corner, and was bowled behind his legs.

Onions is now batting and doubtless noting how humid it is. At least, it feels humid if you have just run down Radcliffe Road carrying a laptop bag and a backpack. Durham, 325-8, lead by 365. And they have just declared...

11.05am: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

This is well poised to be one of the most intriguing championship games of the season, with Middlesex requiring another 209 to win on a gloriously sunny day – so get down if you can, especially as there’s only one more championship game at The Oval this season.

Consensus here is that Surrey are favourites, albeit not by much. Perhaps by a bit more now – Murali Kartik has just got the sixth ball of the day to turn and bounce, getting Sam Robson caught at slip for 22.

10.20am: Alex Winter with the shades on

Morning everyone and welcome to the only live county blog that doesn’t abruptly cut you off when the cricket spills over into the weekend. Absolute scorcher today, if you can’t play cricket now you may as well dissolve the sport. They might even play in Bristol, which has been doing it’s best impersonation of Mawsynram in India - reportedly the wettest place on earth.

If you thought two weeks ago was Super Saturday, today must be Mega Bumper Brilliant Saturday with a delirium of excitement around the country. Can Durham bowl out Notts and make a major dent at both ends of the Division One table? Jon Culley thinks it likely that Graham Onions can lead them to another victory.

Not so likely is any result at Worcester where rain has ruined a crucial relegation tussle with Lancashire that will end up helping no-one really. But it would be bad news for both of those teams if Surrey can win at The Oval. Yesterday it looked as if Kennington was once again a batting haven as Surrey made their way to 230 for 1 and building a big lead. But back came Toby Rolland-Jones with the second new ball, Middlesex whittled out 9 for 111 and were suddenly chasing 254 to win. The loss of Chris Rogers just before the close sets up such a fascinating final day.

In Division Two, results are most unlikely at Colchester and Bristol but Northants, with a lead of 256, could put pressure on Hampshire. Yorkshire are also hoping they can put Derbyshire under pressure at Headingley. Derby need another 38 runs to save the follow-on with two wickets remaining. If Yorkshire can ask them to bat again, they could force a big win that could be a momentum-shifter in the title race - and could yet derail Derbyshire's promotion challenge.

So sit back and drink it in - glorious weather, beautiful British summertime, intriguing cricket and not a football worth caring about.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo