Nottinghamshire hold edge in title race
The extraordinarily tight nature of the table is partly due to the wet summer that has finally abated in time for the final two rounds of matches. Teams have been so bunched together that one win or defeat has sent them rocketing either up or down the standings. The perfect example was last week's match between Lancashire and Kent when Kent's defeat sent them from Championship hopefuls to relegation candidates.
Whoever wins the Championship this season will need to win their final match to do so, and that can only be a good thing. Safety-first cricket has been an issue in county cricket for some time, especially when teams have found themselves building a lead at the top of the table. If Somerset nip in for the crown they will have done it with the lowest percentage of wins in history - just four victories from 16 matches. No-one, though, can afford to take a backward step this time.
"As professional cricketers, this is the type of game that you want to be involved in and we will approach it with clear minds," said Ashwell Prince, who will line-up for Nottinghamshire. "We've got four seamers, right and left-hand spinners and we bat very deep so the balance of the side couldn't be any better."
The pitches will play a key role. Trent Bridge has been a result surface all season with swing also playing a major part. Somerset can't afford to produce a featherbed at Taunton so will have to gamble on a track with some life, which will make the toss an interesting decision. Teams batting first have been shot out on occasions this summer. Durham need plenty of help from other teams to claim their maiden title, but with an attack including Steve Harmison they have the firepower to dismantle a fragile Kent line-up.
Below are the permutations for the teams aiming for the title.
At the other end of the table, five points separate four teams. Sussex and Yorkshire - minus Darren Gough and Michael Vaughan - face each other at Hove in a potential relegation dogfight. However, both could still survive depending on what happens at Taunton and Canterbury.
For Sussex, being led for the final time by Chris Adams, it will be an experience they haven't had for a while, scrapping it out at the bottom of the table. They have felt the absence of Mushtaq Ahmed and 11 draws shows the impact of not being able to bowl sides out twice, as well as the weather.
Lancashire gave themselves a lifeline with their victory against Kent at Aigburth, but it could all come to nothing if they suffer a heavy defeat at Taunton. However, their fate is in their hands and a good victory, with at least 17 points, will put them safe.
In Division Two the scenario is very simple. If Warwickshire take four points against Glamorgan they will claim the title ahead of their Midlands rivals Worcestershire. Both are already promoted, but who'll they be playing against in 2009 is still anyone's guess.
Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo