Sussex edge towards title
Frizzell County Championship Division One
Sussex 537 v Middlesex 392 and 157 for 5 at Hove
Sussex edged towards their first-ever Championship title with another dominating day, against Middlesex. Resuming the day on a nervy 97 not out, Mark Davis went on to make 148, his second first-class century and career-best score as Sussex added 136 for the last two wickets. Last man Billy Taylor gave Davis good support with a patient 35 not out to give Sussex a 145-run lead. All five Sussex bowlers then chipped in with a wicket apiece. Ben Hutton, Owais Shah and Ed Joyce all made thirtysomethings, but Middlesex ended the day only 12 ahead with five wickets left.
Kent 535 beat Surrey 125 and 255 by an innings and 155 runs at Canterbury
Kent required just 11 overs on the final morning to wrap up a thumping innings victory against Surrey at Canterbury - a result that has put Sussex within sniffing distance of the County Championship title. Overnight, Surrey were already dead in the water on 169 for 7, and it required some token resistance from James Ormond and Franklyn Rose to carry them to the relative respectability of 255. But Muttiah Muralitharan ended Ormond's resistance, to complete innings figures of 4 for 90, as Kent consolidated their mid-table position in magnificent style.
Lancashire 781 beat Warwickshire 449 and 187 by an innings and 145 at Edgbaston
Lancashire's late bid for the Championship went into overdrive on the final day at Edgbaston, as Glen Chapple sealed the most improbable innings victory of the season with 5 for 86. Warwickshire could not have conceived of such a thumping when they rattled up 449 in their first innings, but Lancashire's riposte of 781 destroyed their resolve. Both openers, Michael Powell and Nick Knight, fell in single figures to Chapple, and at 126 for 6, only divine intervention could have saved Warwickshire. And lo, the heavens opened, and Lancashire were forced to chew their fingernails in the dressing-room as the day's allotted overs dribbled away. Eventually though, they re-emerged with 24 overs to go, and after some late defiance from Dougie Brown, they inched home. With Surrey's challenge virtually over, Lancashire are now breathing down Sussex's neck in third position.
Frizzell County Championship Division Two
Gloucestershire 401 and 209 for 8 dec beat Derbyshire 321 and 269 by 20 runs at Bristol
Gloucestershire reaped the benefits of a generous declaration, as Derbyshire fell 20 runs short in a gripping run-chase at Bristol. Needing 290 to boost their hopes of avoiding the wooden spoon, Derbyshire looked to have the game cracked while Michael di Venuto and Steve Stubbings were adding 109 for the third wicket. But Ian Fisher and Jon Lewis plugged away, and when di Venuto fell for 80, the rest of the team were caught between defence and attack. Luke Sutton chipped in with 41, but there were just 16 balls of the day remaining when he was bowled swinging across the line, when batting out for the draw might have been the sensible option. It was, nonetheless, a vital win for Gloucestershire, who still have their beady eyes on a third-place finish in the table.
Worcestershire 364 and 313 for 9 dec beat Hampshire 265 and 311 by 101 runs at the Rose Bowl
John Crawley's 88 led a bold pursuit of an unlikely total, but the spin of Gareth Batty proved too much for Hampshire to contend with as they slumped to a 101-run defeat at the Rose Bowl. Batty tweaked out the tail to finish with 4 for 94, and Worcestershire are closing in on the second division title.