Leicestershire end on a high
Not that anyone was really taking much notice, but the last rites of the Second Division were being played out and, with the exception of Leicester, it was proving to be a good end to the season for the batsmen.
At Grace Road, Leicestershire finished on a high with an eight-wicket defeat of Derbyshire in three days. The pitch throughout was substandard, with uneven bounce, but even so that does not explain how Derbyshire slumped from 88 for 0 to 203 all out in their second innings. The home-grown 19-year-old Sam Clift took 4 for 42 and not-quite-so-home-grown Garnett Kruger 3 for 45 to leave Leicestershire with a target of 190. Again an Anglo-South African were to the fore as Matthew Boyce (68) and Boeta Dipenaar (84*) added 145 for the second wicket to seal the win in the extra half hour.
Warwickshire, who wrapped up the title yesterday, had 81 from Rikki Clarke to thank from bailing them out of the pickle they found themselves in before lunch against Glamorgan at Edgbaston when they slid to 105 for 6. Presumably Clarke, who only arrived at Edgbaston last month after a wretched semi-season at Derbyshire, missed the celebrations last night, and until he was joined by Neil Carter (51) the innings looked set to subside. The pair added 112 for the seventh wicket, and that enable Warwickshire to set a target of 403. But Glamorgan, who were poor first time round, looked up for the challenge and reached 111 for 1 by the close.
Runs continued to flow at Wantage Road where Middlesex bowled Northamptonshire out for 256, a lead of 289, but opted to bat again rather than enforce the follow-on. The evergreen Shaun Udal took 5 for 69, his best return of the summer, and then Andrew Strauss and Billy Godleman cracked fifties as Middlesex rattled up 171 for 2 in 34 overs, setting the hosts a target of 461. They lost Stephen Peter to an Owais Shah slip catch in the third over, but eased to 84 for 1 by the close, Rob White finishing unbeaten on 55.
It looks as if Gloucestershire will finish the season with another defeat after they were forced to follow-on by Essex at Bristol. Resuming on 72 for 3, only William Porterfield (69) showed enough fight, and his dismissal triggered a collapse in which the last five wickets fell for 30. Following on 305 behind, they lost Porterfield and Hamish Marshall within three overs to leave them 3 for 2, but Kadeer Ali (92*) and Christopher Taylor (58*) put on an unbeaten 129 for the fourth wicket to at least take the game into a final day. It will take a miracle, however, if Gloucestershire are to record their first win of a dismal campaign.