And so, just like that the cricket summer is nearly over, the weather in September has most definitely ‘played ball’. It was positively glorious on both Day 1 and Day 2 at the County Ground in Chelmsford. There was all to play for in the revised Division 1, Essex needed a win and 5 bonus points to finish top of ‘Division 2’ – more of that in a moment.

Following the last few weeks I’m going to start with the games that finished on Day 2 – the game that finished in one day and 30 minutes included! (In spite of that I still managed to take plenty of photos to share)

Essex v Northamptonshire (Division 2) – The County Ground, Chelmsford. Adam Rossington won the toss for Northants and elected to bat. Essex won by an innings and 44 runs.

Northamptonshire 81 All Out & 45 All Out, Essex 170 All Out.

Having been at an event in London the night before I didn’t arrive until lunchtime,I missed 7 wickets! 5 of which were LBW, Norhants had fallen to 60 for 7. Happily I arrived just in time to hear Essex Legend Ryan ten Doeschate’s speech on his retirement. He was key in achieving great things with Essex after winning promotion to Division 1 in 2016. He scored over 11,000 First Class runs and took 214 FC wickets and plenty of white ball runs and wickets too, he’ll be sorely missed!

A last photo of Ryan in action, from my camera, playing football this time though!

Those 7 wickets were soon followed by the 3 required to finish the innings; just 21 runs were added, giving the total of 81 All Out. Remarkably Emilio Gay made 38 of those runs; facing 74 balls over nearly 2 hours. Sam Cook took 5 for 21 in his 12 overs. The whole innings was over in 34.5 overs. Would Essex fare better? Well, a little, they lasted for 43.2 overs and scored a huge 170 runs, with Adam Wheater being the top scorer with just 34. Tom Taylor and Jack White took 4 wickets each.

I went to sit with some friends for the start of Northants second innings, I predicted 4 wickets down by the end of play, there were actually 5, with just 23 runs on the board! That was pretty poor on the part of the batters, but worse was to follow in the morning, on a glorious morning Essex took the further 5 wickets for a mighty 22 runs; only Luke Proctor seemed to be of a mind to hang around, I think I saw some of the worst shots I’ve seen played on a professional cricket pitch as Sam Cook took another 5, for 20 runs this time, we had 30 minutes of cricket and some truly woeful batting (sorry Northants fans). Several visiting fans had booked a hotel for the duration, to be heartily let down by their team, The bowling across the board was high quality from both teams, but to be bowled out in 18.2 overs is shameful. A Win for Essex .

Gloucestershire v Durham – (Division 2) – The Bristol County Ground, Bristol. Scott Borthwick won the toss for Durham and elected to bat. Gloucestershire won by 7 wickets.

Durham 140 All Out & 131 All Out, Gloucestershire 218 All Out & 54 for 3.

Another captain who will have regretted his decision to bat as Durham were bowled out for just 140 in 45.5 overs. 40 was the top score for Alex Lees opening, he faced 60 balls. Zafar Gohar took 5 for 50 in his 15.5 overs. Gloucestershire had a better time at the crease, with Graeme van Buuren top scoring with 62 from 77 balls. Liam Trevaskis took 5 for 78 in his 33 overs, this innings lasted for 74.4 overs. Durham managed to survive for 52.4 overs but only scored 131 runs, Ben Raine batting at 8 top scored with 38. Zafar took 6 for 51 in 23 overs in this innings. A Win for Gloucestershire.

On to Day 3 of this round and we have 3 results, one of which could decide who’ll be crowned County Champions on 2021.

Lancashire v Hampshire – (Division 1) – Aigburth, Liverpool. Dane Vilas won the toss and put Hampshire in to bat. Lancashire won by 1 wicket.

Hampshire 143 All Out & 193 All Out, Lancashire 141 All Out & 198 for 9.

Hampshire went into this game sitting at the top of the table; They haven’t had the best of batting times in 2021 and this match was no different. They scored their 143 in 73.2 overs, with a couple of stubborn effots, incluing 25 from 101 balls from Mason Crane, his was their top score. The wickets were shared amongst 4 bowlers. Lancashire carried on with the theme of low scores in this round, their innings was just 54 overs with a top score of 40 for Steven Croft in at 7.Mohammad Abbas took 5 for 48 in 22 overs. Hampshire’s second innings lasted an over longer than their first at 74.2. James Vince, batting at 6, which feels low for him, scord 69 from 132 balls, he batted for nearly 3 hours. Lancashire took things down to the wire, with Dane Vilas anchoring the innings at 5 and finishing not out on 47 fro 87 balls, he watched the wickets fall around him as they closed in on Durham’s aggregate score. Lancashire made it by the skin of their teeth with a wicket to spare, the job was done in 66.2 to move Lancashire to the top of the table. Mason Crane took 5 for 41 in his 16 overs. A Win for Lancashire .

Sussex v Derbyshire – (Division 3) – The 1st Central County Ground, Hove. Billy Godelman won the toss and elected to bat. Derbyshire won by 9 wickets.

Derbyshire 465 All Out & 23 for 1, Sussex 300 All Out & 187 All Out.

The first big score of the round and the first century. Billy Godelman scored 52 as opener from 130 balls, he shared a first wicket stand of 89 with Harry Came. Wayne Madsen in at 4 made 111 from 182 balls, batting for just over 4 hours. He and Godelman put on 96 for the 3rd wicket and he shared a partnership of 123 with Matt Critchley who scored 85 from 152 balls. Henry Crocombe and Jamie Atkins took 4 wickets each. The innings lasted 118.4 overs. There were 57 extras given away by Sussex including 26 No Balls. Sussex had their own century maker, with Ben Brown in at 3 scoring 157 from 190 balls he batted for nearly 5 hour sharing a 5th wicket stand of 142 with Oli Carter who scored 51. Jack Carson in at 7 was not out 6 from 112 balls. Ben Aitchinson was the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 80 from 21 overs. Sussex followed on and couldn’t match their first innings antics. Delray Rawlins batting at 7 top scored with 58 from 46 balls, that included 9 Fours and 2 Sixes. The wickets were shared between the bowlers. Derbyshire needed 23 to win and they achieved that in 3.4 overs for the loss of a single wicket. A Win for Derbyshire.

Worcestershire v Leicestershire – (Division 3) – New Road, Worcestershire. Callum Parkinson won the toss and elected to bat. Worcestershire won by 10 wickets.

Leicestershire 222 All Out & 211 All Out, Worcestershire 422 All Out & 12 for No Wicket.

An innings that lasted 82.3 overs and saw Louis Kimber in at 5 top scoring with 71 from 150 balls, he batted for just over 3 hours. The wickets wee shared between 5 bowlers. 7 batters scored under 20 runs. Worcestershire had a very different innings, Jake Libby opening, top scored with 77 from 136 balls, he shared a 2nd wicket partnership of 125 with Charlie Morris who scored 50 from 126 balls. Ben Cox batting at 8 scored 59 from 103 balls, The middle order, from 4 to 7 all scored 35 or over and 39 extras were added to the score. The wickets were shared between 4 bowlers. Leicestershire’s second innings was 81 overs long, George Rhodes in at 3 scored 90 from 220 balls batting for over 5 hours. Ben Mike in at 6 stayed with Rhodes and they put on 88 before Mike was out for 58 from 78 balls. 5 bowlers shared the wickets. Worcestershire needed just 12 runs to won and they did that in 2.4 overs. A Win for Worcestershire.

Kent v Middlesex -(Division 3) – The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury. Zak Crawley won the toss and put Middlesex in to bat. Kent won by 2 wickets,

Middlesex 147 All Out & 363 All Out, Kent 138 All Out & 275 for 8.

Mark Stoneman in his new role as a Middlesex opener scored 59 of the 147 scored, facing 130 balls and batting for 3 hours.8 batters scored under 15, with 5 Ducks on the score card. Darren Stevens was the best of the bowlers (as he so often is!) with 4 for 21 in 15 overs. The innings lasted for 60.5 overs. The top scorer for Kent managed just 30, being Tawanda Muyeye in at 7, just the 3 Ducks in this one, with another 2 batters with 4 and 2. All that added up to 138 in 54.4 overs. The wickets were shared between the 4 bowlers. Things very much changed for both teams in their second innings. For starters Stoneman scored a century, he ended up with 109 from 148 balls, his was the only score over 50 but there were only 3 scores under 10, that all added up to a decent 363 in 86.4 overs. Matthew Milnes took 5 for 87 in 19.4 overs. Kent had a century maker too, Crawley started well with 47, but it was a 5th wicket stand of 172 between Ollie Robinson and Tawanda Muyeye that won the day and the match. Robinson made 112 from 163 balls and Muyeye 8 from 17. A useful 37 from Grant Stewart in at 9 saw Kent over the line in 105.2 overs. The wickets were shared between 4 bowlers. A Won for Kent.

Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire – (Division 1) – Trent Bridge, Nottingham. Ben Coad won the toss for Yorkshire and put Nottinghamshire in to bat. Nottinghamshire won by 5 wickets.

Nottinghamshire 296 All Out & 174 for 5, Yorkshire 73 All Out & 396 All Out.

Notts fell to 47 for 2, but Joe Clarke played a patient innings at 3, he batted for over 4.5 hours, scoring 109 from the 204 balls faced. the only other innings over 50 was Joey Evison in at 8, he scored 58 from 120 balls. The innings lasted for 97.3 overs and 5 bolwwrs shared the wickets. I think it’s fair to say Yorkshire’s innings was a disaster; they were bowled out for 73 in 29.2 overs. Jordan Thompson had the top score of just 16. Evison had the best bowling figures of 4 for 13 in his 7 overs. Naturally Yorkshire followed on and made a much better fist of things. Adam Lyth’s 153 from 381 balls set them up well, he shared a second wicket stand with Tom Kohler-Cadmore of 103, Kohler-Cadmore scored 49 and Harry Brook 42. The wickets were shared between 5 bowlers in the 142.2 overs. Nottinghamshire took 48 overs to score the runs needed, Ben Slater opening scored 79 from 132 balls and Ben Duckett in at 3 made 54 in 87 balls. A WIn for Nottinghamshire.

Surrey v Glamorgan – The Oval, London. Chris Cooke won the toss for Glamorgan and elected to bat. Match Drawn (Shock!)

Glamorgan 672 for 6 dec, Surrey 722 for 4.

Well, this was a strange one! A bit of batting practice for both teams basically! Glamorgan batted for 177 overs and scored 672 runs for the loss of only 6 wickets. David Lloyd opening shared a second wicket stand of 125 with Joe Cooke. Lloyd scored 121 from 180 balls, batting for nearly 5 hours. Cooke made 68 from 144 balls. The next big partnership of 140 for the 5th wicket was between Kiran Carlson and Chris Cooke. Carlson scored 69 from 109 balls and Cooke went on to score 205 from 299 balls, he batted for nearly 6 hours. The 6th wicket stand was 189 as Dan Douthwaite contributed 59 from 146 balls. Surrey used 7 bowlers, Daniel Moriarty bowling 53 overs for a return of 2 wickets. The likelihood of anything but a draw at the Oval saw some batting practice for Surrey too. Jamie Smith made 138 from 236 balls sharing an opening partnership of 140 with Ryan Patel who made 62 from 138 balls. Hashim Amla enjoyed a stand of 107 with Smith then a huge 382 with Ollie Pope. Pope was eventually out after batting for over 6 hours, he scored 274 from 345 balls. The returning Ben Foakes scored 53 from 101 balls as the game ended in an inevitable draw.

Warwickshire v Somerset – (Division 1) – Tom Abell won the toss for Somerset and put Warwickshire in to bat. Warwickshire won by 118 runs.

Warwickshire 367 All Out & 294 for 3, Somerset 389 All Out &

Warwickshire had the chance to become County Champions with a win and the required number of batting/bowling points. a trophy they hadn’t won since 1995. With that in mind they opened the doors of Edgbaston with no ticket cost, oh to live near Birmingham! Their cause was helped by their first innings which gained them 4 batting points. 4 batters chipped in with scores over 50. Dom Sibley and Will Rhodes shared a second wicket partership of 121, Rhodes scoring 60 from 133 balls and Sibley 56 from 165. Sam Hain in at 4 made 83 from 161 balls and shared 125 runs with Matthew Lamb. Dany Briggs in at 9 scored 53* from 31 balls. The innings lasted 112.5 overs and Craig Overton took 5 for 88 in his 30.5 overs. Somerset haven’t had the best of batting times in this second phase, but they managed to exceed Warwickshires total with 4 scores above 50. Tom Lammonby made 59 from 88, AzharAli 60 from 124, Steve Davies in at 6 scored 52 from 90 balls and Lewis Gregory 68 from 139 as they frustrated the home team. Will Rhodes would need to make a declaration with a score he thought would give his team a chance of that trophy. Warwickshire batted for just over 3.5 hours with opener Rob Yates carrying his bat with 132 from 168 balls. He and Sibley put on 119 for the first wicket as Sibley scored 50 from 69 balls. Rhodes himself scored 63 from 44 before being run out. 51 overs in the declaration was made. 10 wickets stood between Warwickshire and the trophy. By tea time they had 7 of those wickets with 40 overs remaining. At that point I went out to watch rugby, to hear on my journey that Warwickshire had done it! Somerset were bowled out in 52 overs and Warwickshire are Champions! A Win and A Trophy for Warwickshire.

We’ve had from some ridiculous cricket in this round, from some awful batting to give crazily low scores to the runs fest at The Oval! Neither scenario is good for the game, as beautiful a batsman as Ollie Pope is to behold, I’m not convinced his huge innings at the Oval is great preparation for a probable Ashes berth. Nor that a match heading towards a certain draw was entertaining for those present. The best game of the round seems to have happened at Edgbaston, congratulations to Warwickshire on the win and the trophy! They’ve come a long way since that day in 2017 when I was at Edgbaston watching Essex securing the Division 1 winners berth as Warwickshire was relegated, the differing emotions that day were stark to say the least.

We have one more game next week, Warwickshire and Lancashire will contest the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s- hoping for a great game of cricket!

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