County Championship round up: Somerset and Gloucestershire pull off thrilling final-day chases
Somerset chase down 285 to beat Middlesex; Gloucestershire beat Surrey by eight wickets as they reach 228-run target in just 37.1 overs; Hampshire need just 30 minutes on day four to wrap up a convincing innings-and-105-run win over Leicestershire
Last Updated: 12/04/21 7:11am
Somerset eked out a thrilling four-wicket win over Middlesex in their LV= County Championship opener at Lord's, with George Bartlett and Lewis Gregory sharing in a vital, unbroken 98-run stand.
Left with a target of 285 after bowling out their hosts for 143 in their second innings, Somerset resumed day four on 112-3, with captain Tom Abell unbeaten on 62 and Bartlett new to the crease.
The pair added a further 51 runs to the score to see the visitors well placed before Ethan Bamber's double strike raised Middlesex hopes.
Bamber (3-77) picked up Abell (84) to a thin edge behind, and then dismissed Steven Davies lbw for a duck. Tim Murtagh (1-71) added Craig Overton (5), caught behind on the stroke of lunch, and Somerset were suddenly wobbling having lost three for 24.
But Gregory came in and countered with a match-winning contribution of 62, from just 72 balls, while Bartlett finished unbeaten on 76 as their near-century stand saw last year's Bob Willis Trophy runners-up to victory in their 2021 season opener.
The win also immediately wipes out Somerset's eight-point penalty imposed for breaches of pitch regulations carried over from 2019.
Graeme van Buuren's third century for Gloucestershire, off only 94 balls, steered them to an eight-wicket win over Surrey as they chased down their 228-run target in just 37.1 overs.
Van Buuren's unbeaten 110 and captain Chris Dent's 91 not out - the pair sharing in an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 193 - saw Gloucestershire to a first win over their opponents in the Championship since 2011.
Ben Foakes' earlier 133 had given Surrey hope of saving the game but Gloucestershire took their final five second-innings wickets for only 15 runs to bowl them out for 333, leaving them 63 overs for their chase - of which they needed little more than half.
Dent anchored the pursuit, scoring his second half-century of the match, but it was Van Buuren's hundred - with 15 fours and two sixes - that turned the game into somewhat of a procession.
Staying in Group 2, Hampshire took just 30 minutes to take the final two wickets they needed to complete a comprehensive innings victory over Leicestershire at Grace Road.
Kyle Abbott pinned Gavin Griffiths lbw for 16 before former Foxes bowler, Pakistan's Mohammad Abbas, bowled Alex Evans for two to clinch an innings-and-105-run win.
James Vince struck a sensational 231 off just 220 balls earlier in the game for Hampshire as they declared on 612-5 in their first innings - Tom Alsop (119) and Liam Dawson (152) also contributed with centuries. Leicestershire, in reply, were bowled out for 202 and then 305 following on.
Centurion Billy Root may have won the battle with older brother, England Test captain Joe, but Glamorgan could not force a final-day victory over Yorkshire at Emerald Headingley.
Left-handed Billy, aged 28, almost two years Joe's junior, posted 43 and 110 not out in the Group 3 fixture but, after Glamorgan set Yorkshire 379 to win in a minimum of 76 overs, the home side ended on 223-4 - Adam Lyth (115no) hitting a superb, and crucial, century.
Yorkshire had slipped to 47-3 shortly after lunch, with Joe Root out for 13, but Harry Brook contributed 60 to a fine 131-run fourth-wicket partnership with Lyth that eased any fears of an opening defeat to the season and the game was called a draw at 5.15pm.
In Group 1, defending Bob Willis Trophy champions Essex drew with Worcestershire in Chelmsford, with Jake Libby carrying his bat for the visitors as his knock of 180 not out became the second-longest County Championship innings ever in terms of minutes batted.
Libby (180no) stayed at the crease for 11 hours and 21 minutes - only Jason Gallian's vigil for Lancashire in 1996, which was two minutes longer, beats Libby's effort in the record books.
Ed Barnard and Dillon Pennington also registered personal first-class best scores of 128 and 56, respectively, as Worcestershire were ultimately bowled out for 475 in reply to Essex's 490-9 declared. The game ended in a draw with Essex 28-1 in their second innings, Alastair Cook having been dismissed for 12.
Nottinghamshire found the required resilience to hold on for a draw in their Group 1 opener against Durham at Trent Bridge, with the visitors managing to take only five wickets in their quest for 10 to force victory on the final day.
Nottinghamshire are now without a win in the Championship in 27 matches, but they can take some positives from earning a battling draw here, especially after being bowled out inside 74.1 overs in their first innings. Set an unlikely 396 to win on the final day, Notts successfully saw off 83.3 overs in reaching 298-5 when the game ended in a stalemate.
Two quick wickets for Chris Rushworth (2-36) - Haseeb Hameed for a duck and Ben Ducket for 12 - gave Durham the start they wanted but they could take only three more in the rest of the day, with Ben Slater (73), Lyndon James (79no) and skipper Steven Mullaney (69) sufficiently digging in.
Warwickshire and Derbyshire had to settle for a draw in their Group 1 game at Edgbaston after a potentially intriguing final-day run chase in the final session was scuppered by yet more bad weather.
Facing a victory target of 213 in 41 overs in the last session, the home side were just 25 balls into their pursuit when snow began to fall to end a contest which had been plagued by wintry weather on each of its four days.
For Derbyshire, a draw was due reward for their dogged resistance on a final day which they began in serious jeopardy at 71-5, just 39 runs ahead. Sixth-wicket pair Matt Critchley (83) and Harvey Hosein (78no) dug in to add 113 together and the visitors were finally bowled out for 244 just before tea.
Rob Keogh's resolute century saw Northamptonshire claim maximum batting points as their Group 3 County Championship clash with Kent petered out into a final-day draw.
Keogh batted for a shade over six hours to score 124 - his 10th first-class hundred for the county - as Northants were ultimately bowled out for 434 in their first innings. Ricardo Vasconcelos had earlier top-scored with 154.
England batsman Zak Crawley was left unbeaten on 19 as Kent reached 42-1 in their second innings before bad weather closed in and called an end to proceedings early.
In Group 3, a game that had often seemed at the mercy of some eccentric weather was brought to a premature conclusion just after lunch on the final day a 20 minutes worth of heavy snow saw Lancashire's meeting with Sussex at Emirates Old Trafford end in a draw.
The game was eventually called off at 3.20pm with Sussex 103-2 in their second innings. Aaron Thomason ended the day 46 not out and Tom Clark unbeaten on 14; both Sussex wickets to fall in the day - including first-innings centurion Tom Haines (26) - were taken by fast bowler Saqib Mahmood (2-19).