Dawson and Bell-Drummond Shine, but Surrey Stumble

There was a surprise outcome at The Oval as runaway league leaders Surrey were pegged back by Lancashire, who recorded their second win in succession. The hosts chose to field first and will have been satisfied with their work to dismiss the away side for 274, with Jordan Clark and Sean Abbott both taking four wickets. In reply, Surrey relied on a mammoth tenth-wicket partnership of 130 between Abbott, whose 87 not out was his highest score for the county, and Daniel Worrall, who made a career-best 51, to take them up to 360 all out, a commanding lead of 86. Lancashire would have hoped to do better than the 293 they ground out, but a maiden first-class fifty from Will Williams (61) proved essential. That left the home side requiring a seemingly modest 208 for victory, but the evening session on the third day saw them crumble to 57 for five. On the final morning Surrey fell to 84 all out, as Tom Bailey (five for 48) and Williams (four for 23) did all the damage. It was Surrey’s first home defeat since August 2020.

That result allowed the chasing pack to close the gap, with Essex beating Warwickshire by nine wickets at Chelmsford to move 23 points behind the leaders. The home side chose to bat first, and a third-wicket partnership of 227 between Tom Westley (114) and Dan Lawrence (152) set them on their way to a hefty total of 457 all out. On-loan spinner Dom Bess took two for 159 for the visitors. Keeper William Buttleman made 43, the highest score of his fledgling career. Warwickshire succumbed to the spin of Simon Harmer, who took five for 65, in their reply of 158, and they were forced to follow on. Harmer again led the way, finishing with match figures of ten for 230 as the away team fought hard. Thirty-year-old Jake Lintott, playing in only his second first-class match, made a feisty 78 to help his team up to 381 all out. It left Essex to chase down 83 for victory, and Alastair Cook saw them home.

Hampshire lie a further three points back after their innings victory over Middlesex inside three days at the Rose Bowl. Having chosen to bat first, they made full use of a fresh pitch to score 419, with Nick Gubbins making 120 and Liam Dawson a fine 141. Prior to this game, Josh De Caires had taken only one first-class wicket (Shan Masood), but he now went on to pick up seven more, conceding 144 runs with his off-breaks – better figures than his father, Mike Atherton, ever managed. (It may surprise some to know that the former England captain ended his career with 108 first-class wickets.) Anything De Caires could do, the experienced Dawson could match as he finished with six for 40 as Middlesex were bowled out for 150. Following on, Middlesex again succumbed to Dawson, who took six for 90 to finish with the best match figures of his career: 12 for 130, in addition to his century. He became the first player since 1948 to take ten wickets and score 100 runs in a match for Hampshire. It was the sort of performance that might have reminded the England selectors that the county game still has some decent spinners who could usefully bat at No 8 in Test cricket. All out for 208, Middlesex were beaten by an innings and 61 runs.

There were some remarkable performances at Northampton, but unfortunately for the struggling hosts they all came from visitors Kent. The home side chose to bat first and would have been in even more trouble were it not for Rob Keogh’s 97 helping them up to 237. Wes Agar finished with five for 63. In reply, after the early loss of Ben Compton, Tawanda Muyeye (a career-best 179) put on 318 for the second wicket with Daniel Bell-Drummond. The latter was far from finished, and he went past his previous career-best in search of a triple century. With partners falling by the wayside, Bell-Drummond was reliant on last man Arshdeep Singh to see him up to 300 not out, the fourth highest score in the county’s history, as Kent were eventually all out for a massive 621. In only his second match, Alex Russell had taken six for 175. Northamptonshire needed something special even to avoid an innings defeat, and while five batters reached 40, none managed to get to 60; bowler Jack White top-scored with 59, his maiden fifty. It wasn’t enough, and they were all out for 369, losing by an innings and 15 runs.

There was a similarly emphatic result at Taunton, where Nottinghamshire fell to defeat inside three days. No one would have expected that when Brett Hutton took five for 34 to help dismiss Somerset for 163. The visitors replied with 186, Matt Henry taking six for 59. A low-scoring game was transformed in Somerset’s second innings as they piled up 514 for eight declared, with George Bartlett making 134 and James Rew adding 123 not out, his highest score and his fifth century in just 16 matches; the 19-year-old keeper now averages 48.63 with the bat. There was no recovery from that for Nottinghamshire, who crumbled to 92 all out, with Josh Davey taking four for 17. The 399-run victory for Somerset was the biggest of the summer to date.

In the Second Division, leaders Durham were held to a draw in a high-scoring game at Grace Road by Leicestershire, who are 36 points adrift in second place. Alex Lees (101) began the runfest, before Ollie Robinson stepped up with a career-best 167 not out, sharing a fifth-wicket partnership of 227 with Graham Clark that ended only when the latter was run out on 92. Having declared on 517 for six, Durham found Colin Ackermann still giving his best before he leaves Leicestershire at the end of the season, as his 146 was the centerpiece of their reply of 422. Lees then completed his second century of the match (145) before David Bedingham smashed seven sixes on the way to his 145 not out. Durham declared on 343 for four off just 61.4 overs. Set a target of 439, Leicestershire just managed to bat out the 75 overs that remained, finishing on 259 for eight, thanks to an unbeaten 136 from Peter Handscomb. Matt Parkinson dismissed twin Callum, LBW – it was the third time one of the Parkinson twins had accounted for the other. Remarkably, in first-class cricket this feat has been achieved only five times. The match aggregate of 1541 runs was the second highest in Durham’s history.

Just one point behind the Foxes, Sussex clung on to secure a draw at Sophia Gardens in a thrilling game. Glamorgan chose to bat first and made 242, but still took a first-innings lead after Sussex could muster only 203 in reply. A century from Sam Northeast (104) helped the hosts up to 319 in their second innings, while Nathan McAndrew completed a four-wicket haul in both innings. Facing a target of 359, no one could supply the big score required, and it was left to Oli Carter and Henry Shipley to bat out the last 74 minutes or 21.2 overs, which they did, finishing on 273 for nine.

There was a less compelling draw at Headingley, where Finlay Bean scored his second century (114), George Hill (101) his third and Matthew Revis his first (104 not out) as three young players, all aged 21 or 22, set Yorkshire on their way to 550 for nine declared. Oliver Price (also aged 22) hit back with his maiden century (113) as Gloucestershire replied with a total of 464, despite on-loan Dan Moriarty taking five for 139. Yorkshire then batted out the rest of the game, scoring 200 for six.

Finally, there was a more one-sided draw at New Road, where visitors and bottom-placed Derbyshire were unable to defeat the hosts despite dominating the game. Rehaan Edavalath made his first-class debut for Worcestershire, but was out for a duck in the first innings as his side was dismissed for 237, Anuj Dal taking five for 45. Dal confirmed a superb all-round effort when he scored 141 not out in the away side’s reply. He wasn’t the only batter to enjoy himself, as Wayne Madsen made 143 and skipper Leus du Plooy hit a career-best 238 not out. Madsen and du Plooy added 267 for the fourth wicket, while du Plooy and Dal made an unbeaten 258 for the sixth wicket (a new county record, beating the one Dal had set in 2021 with Brooke Guest), the partnership ending when the declaration came at 578 for five. With more than a day to bat out, the home side were grateful to Gareth Roderick for his 123, while Ed Pollock’s 56 in almost four hours was uncharacteristically restrained performance. They finished on 243 for six.