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4.10pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Middlesex
It looks like Warwickshire will still have to worry about staving off defeat at Edgbaston, despite a long interruption for rain. With tea taken during the stoppage, the scheduled restart at 4.25pm still leaves 36 overs to be bowled. One more wicket in addition to the five the title contenders have lost could make things very twitchy.
The consolation for Jim Troughton and his crew is that the rain may deny Sussex a win at Taunton, in which event the gap between themselves and the south coast side will be nine points if they lose and Sussex draw, 12 points if they both draw or lose.
2.55pm: Ivo Tennant at Somerset v Sussex
“Shocking weather,” said umpire Rob Bailey as he perused leaden skies. But there will be further play in this well-balanced match which either side could yet win. Other news: Stumpy the Somerset mascot has decided to go and earn some money in London rather than be featured before Sky’s cameras for t20 finals day. Abdur Rehman, who could yet spin Somerset to victory, is endearing himself to every local interviewer by stating, each time, with a big smile, “I do my best for my club” and not a lot else.
2.40pm: Remarkable day for late-order stands
Another remarkable late-order stand has ended at Grace Road as Leicestershire have beaten Hampshire by 126 runs- a defeat that deals a severe blow to Hampshire's promotion hopes.
Chris Wood, who came in at No 9, and last man David Balcombe put on 168 for the last wicket in 22.4 overs before Balcombe, the last man, was bowled by Nathan Buck for 73 (off 70 balls). Wood finished on 105 not out off 88 balls.
1.40pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Middlesex
Warwickshire will resume rather hoping that the rain forecast for mid-afternoon makes its way here quickly enough to save them the bother of having to battle through for a draw. They may have had it in mind to bat out the day anyway, rather than go hard in pursuit of what was always going to be a stiff target, but then they lost three wickets in 12 overs before lunch.
William Porterfield went for 12, drawn out of his crease by the first ball of the innings from Ravi Patel, the left-arm spinner, and stumped by Adam Rossington.
Adding to Warwickshire's concerns as they seek to avoid making a complete hash of this is that Tim Ambrose, who needed treatment on his left hand after fielding a lifter from Boyd Rankin this morning, has gone for an X-ray amid fears he has a broken knuckle.
12.45pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Middlesex
Warwickshire have to decide whether to stick or twist with the news that Sussex are pushing hard for a victory at Taunton which may involve a fair amount of going back and forth between showers...if they are lucky.
A target of 367 from a minimum 83 overs is demanding but not impossible on what has been a decent pitch offering pace off the bat. It has become more difficult, however, with two wickets already gone. Ian Westwood coupled his first-innings century with a duck when he was well caught, one-handed by Adam Rossington behind the stumps off Tim Murtagh, who then took a comfortable catch when Varun Chopra rashly attempted to pull a ball from Toby Roland-Jones that was not there for the shot and wound up looping the ball back over the bowler's head.
It may have been enough to set a few alarm bells ringing and I suspect they will settle for a draw, which would not be the worst result at this stage, with a game in hand of Sussex and Nottinghamshire due here next week.
Quiet day to this point on the helicopter front. Only one spotted.
12.30pm: Ivo Tennant at Somerset v Sussex
It is a question here of whether Sussex can beat the rain in their quest to make 133 runs today to defeat Somerset and head off to Cardiff for t20 finals day tomorrow. They are making decent progress. Meanwhile, news that James Hildreth has been spotted recently in a coffee shop in Taunton talking to Ian Blackwell, once a big hitter in these parts before leaving Somerset in the Justin Langer era and heading for Durham. Could he return?
12.30pm: Kenny Shovel reporting for duty
The latest offering from county cricket's rumpled muse has landed. Here's a sample:
There are still three rounds of the Championship, Twenty20 finals day and the conclusion of the CB40 to be played this season. But there’ll be precious little opportunity to see England players turning out for their county side as the demands of the international schedule encroach ever more on to the domestic cricket.
The extent of that was laid bare by Wednesday’s ECB announcement about player availability for the rest of the season. It was a list as long as Steve Finn’s arm and as sobering as the role call scene at the end of Zulu. Twenty players missing for most or all of the remainder of the season. Twenty!
11.50am: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Middlesex
Warwickshire took the new ball immediately -- it was due after what turned out to be the last over before the light became unplayable yesterday -- and had success in the second over with it when Chris Wright had Dawid Malan caught behind for 140, three short of his career best.
Middlesex have since had Steven Crook caught behind edging a pull shot. In between dealing efficiently with these chances, Tim Ambrose, the Warwickshire wicketkeeper, needed lengthy treatment for an injury to part of his left hand, involving manipulation, freezing spray and a painkiller or two. You wouldn't have known.
Now Gareth Berg has gone to a catch at cover for 78, also off Wright, who has four wickets, and Tim Murtagh has edged Boyd Ranknin, who has five, to Clarke at second slip.
Middlesex are 408-9, which puts them 362 ahead. The feeling is that they never intended to declare and will be perfectly satisfied to leave with a draw. It is not the result that Warwickshire want but the game in hand they have of Sussex is a significant advantage at this stage.
11.40am: Derbyshire pair narrowly miss world record
Derbyshire's Wayne Madsen and Tom Poynton fell 22 runs short of a world record stand for the ninth wicket when Jack Brooks bowled Poynton at The County Ground. Madsen went on to make an unbeaten 231, his highest first-class score, as Derbyshire, 253 for 8 at one time, made 569.
On the third day, Madsen piled on 223 not out off 384 balls, including 31 fours, as Derbyshire soared to 512 for 8 at the close. Their unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 259 was the third-highest in the history of first-class cricket and it produced the first century of 22-year-old Poynton's career as he finished unbeaten on 105 from 209 deliveries.
Derbyshire already hold the world record. John Chapman and Arnold Warren put on 283 against Warwickshire at Blackwell in 1910. Chapman, like Madsen more than a century later, was Derbyshire captain at the time. Warren, a fast bowler, won an England cap against Australia in 1905.
Last Bat T Poynton b Brooks 106 (270m 212b 10x4 0x6) SR: 50.00 Fall of wicket: 514/9 (156.2 ov); Partnership: 261 runs, 72.5 overs, RR: 3.58
11.35am: Ivo Tennant at Somerset v Sussex
The forecast is dire in the west country, but there will be play at the County Ground at noon – assuming, of course, there is no further rain. The main concern here, though, given the importance of t20 finals day tomorrow for Sky, is that Stumpy the Somerset mascot has vanished. He was due to be interviewed yesterday but did a runner. No sign of him as yet this morning. ‘Bumble’ Lloyd will have to find some other creature to run with at Cardiff.
This could be a significant day in the Championship race. If Sussex complete their pursuit against Somerset and Warwickshire don't chase down a tough target against Middlesex the lead in the table will chase. However, Warwickshire will still have a game in hand on the chasing pack. This is bubbling up to be a fantastic last few weeks to the season.
Monty Panesar has ruled proceedings at Taunton and Somerset will need Abdur Rehman to do the same if they are to pull a victory out of the bag. At Edgbaston, Chris Rogers and Dawid Malan have scored excellent hundreds to hold up the current leaders. What will they leave as a chase? Also, keep an eye on events at Wantage Road where Wayne Madsen and Tom Poynton have so far added 259 for the ninth wicket.
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Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.