Durham complete a great escape
Shane Warne lost his cool as the season drifted to an anticlimactic conclusion at The Rose Bowl as Lancashire and Hampshire played out the final day. Mark Chilton had spoken of still trying to force a win, despite the Championship going to Sussex, but ultimately the day became an end-of-season net for the Lancashire batsmen as they settled for sealing second place. Luke Sutton notched his second ton of the summer and Nathan Astle hit 86 in what is probably his last knock for the county. Click here for more on Warne.
Middlesex ended their time in the first division with a battling draw against Kent at Canterbury as Nick Compton rounded off a fine personal season scoring his fifth century. Despite following-on, Middlesex didn't have too much trouble batting out the day although Rob Ferley did his best to create a few alarms. Owais Shah chipped in with 52 but the draw was small consolation for Middlesex who had long-since been consigned to the drop.
Worcestershire grabbed the second promotion slot with an outstanding display on the final day against Northamptonshire at Northampton. The home side were moving along nicely at 100 for 1 before Gareth Batty and Ray Price instigated a dramatic collapse to 143 all out. Still, though, a target of 205 on a turning pitch was no cakewalk but Stephen Moore and Vikram Solanki hit fine half-centuries. Solanki's 50 took just 43 balls then Graeme Hick was at the crease to ensure Monty Panesar's five-wicket haul didn't cause major problems.
There were contrasting emotions for Essex who watched promotion slip away as Leicestershire completed a five-wicket victory at Grace Road. Aware that they couldn't settle for a draw if Worcestershire won, Essex contrived a finish. They smashed 186 off 9.4 overs of joke bowling - Mark Pettini's ton taking just 27 balls - to leave Leicestershire chasing 301. Tom New and John Maunders set the platform and all the middle order chipped in. However, it was Jim Allenby's 49-ball 68 that sealed the deal and completed an impressive Championship debut.
Surrey finished the season on a high as they beat Derbyshire by five wickets at Derby. Scott Newman led the impressive run chase with a 76-ball 83 and Mark Butcher guided his team across the line with a run-a-ball 59. Surrey had earlier declared at the overnight first innings total, before Derbyshire reciprocated on 162 for 8. Ian Salisbury finished the season on a pleasing note with 4 for 53 and was also at the crease when the winning runs arrived.
Alex Gidman's fourth century of the season guided Gloucestershire to a draw against Glamorgan at Cardiff. Three early wickets gave Glamorgan a sniff and forcing a result, but Gidman and Hamish Marshall added 143 for the fourth wicket.