501 Up as Surrey Go for Double Top
The Spitfire Ground in Canterbury hosted one of the most remarkable matches in its long history this week. Kent chose to bat first but stumbled to 41 for five before Jordan Cox led a fightback with a fine innings of 133, adding 100 for the ninth wicket with Wes Agar (whose 51 was his highest score for the county), to help his side up to a respectable 301 all out. It proved more than enough for Surrey, who crumbled to 145 in reply. When the hosts posted 344 in their second innings, despite Jordan Clark’s five for 79, it left the visitors chasing a mammoth 501 for victory, with five sessions to get there. No side had ever scored more than 447 in the fourth innings on the ground in a history dating back to 1847.
However, by the end of the third day, Surrey had reached 263 for three; Dom Sibley was still there on 61 not out after 74 overs, while Jamie Smith had made 114, reaching three figures in just 70 balls – two more contrasting innings it would be hard to find. Tom Latham, on his debut for the county, had scored 58. On the final day, Sibley and Ben Foakes extended their partnership to 207, Foakes scoring 124. Sibley went to the slowest century in Championship history, taking 363 balls and 502 minutes to get there. He was still there at the end, unbeaten on 140 (415 balls, 580 minutes) as Surrey claimed their victory by five wickets. It was the eighth highest successful run chase in first-class history, and was just one run behind the Championship record of 502 for six by Middlesex against Notts, back in 1925. A day later, Surrey announced they would be signing Dan Lawrence from Essex in 2024 to further bolster their batting. The win moved them 32 points clear of Warwickshire, in second, who have a game in hand.
A mammoth rearguard action saw Nottinghamshire hold out for a draw against Warwickshire at Trent Bridge after the visitors batted first and took full advantage, declaring on 571 for nine. Sam Hain top scored with 100 (his third century of the summer), but four other batters passed fifty, including Hasan Ali, whose 54 was his best score for the county. The hosts then fell away to 155 all out, requiring something special to save the match when they had to follow on. They got it from Joe Clarke, who made an unbeaten 229, the highest score of the summer to date and the best score of his career. Remarkably, he was the only batter to pass fifty as Nottinghamshire finished on 464 for six.
At Southport, Lancashire recorded their first win of the season, beating Hampshire by six wickets after they put the visitors in to bat and rolled them over for 142. A century by Phil Salt (103, his highest score for the county) was the crucial contribution to Lancashire’s reply of 374, which came despite a career-best return of six for 67 from Felix Organ (his first wickets of the season). Three of Hampshire’s top four made fifties, including Fletcha Middleton with a career-best 77, but none could go on to make a big score. George Bell took his maiden first-class wicket (Liam Dawson), and a total of 370 left the home side chasing 140 for victory and an unbeaten 64 from acting skipper Dane Vilas ensured there would be no alarms along the way.
Tom Westley’s Essex took full advantage when he won the toss and chose to bat first, with Alastair Cook scoring 128 (his 74th century) and Matt Critchley hitting 121 as they declared on 462 for nine. For Somerset, 19-year-old spinner Shoaib Bashir made his first-class debut and finally took his maiden wicket (Sam Cook). In reply, the visitors were all out for 167, with Sean Dickson carrying his bat for 82, while Simon Harmer took five for 64. Essex then declared on 170 for seven to set a target of 466, but they were all out for 269.
In the Second Division, there were lots of runs scored at Chester-le-Street, but league leaders Durham were unable to secure another victory. Visitors Glamorgan made 390 in their first innings, largely thanks to 162 from Kiran Carlson; Craig Miles, on loan from Warwickshire, took four for 73. At 119 for four there was little sign of what was to come from Durham, but centuries from David Bedingham (151) and Ollie Robinson (102) set them on their way to a mammoth total of 630, the fifth highest total in their history. Glamorgan then needed to bat out the match to earn a draw, and thanks to 134 not out from Chris Cooke ended the game on 426 for seven.
Sussex are in second place after their gripping high-scoring draw against Worcestershire at Hove. The hosts were put in to bat and were grateful for lower-order runs from Nathan McAndrew (65), his highest score in Championship matches, Jack Carson (64) and 41 from New Zealander Henry Shipley on his debut to take them up to 348. Joe Leach was the most successful bowler, taking six for 78, while Usama Mir picked up just one wicket on his debut for the county. Jake Libby was last out, for 198, falling just short of carrying his bat and making a double hundred in the away side’s reply of 410; Aristides Karvelas took four for 54, his best figures, while Shipley had three victims. Skipper Tom Alsop scored 100 not out as Sussex made 447 for seven declared in their second innings, leaving the visitors to chase 386. Libby fell three runs short of a second hundred in the match, while Azhar Ali was on 101 not out with eight balls left, 9 runs wanted and four wickets in hand. But Karvelas bowled him, and at the start of the final over McAndrew accounted for Mir, leaving Leach and Adam Finch to see if they could make 8 runs in five balls. They ended up five short in a game that had supplied 1586 runs and plenty of excitement.
At Bristol, Gloucestershire chose to bat first and were able to make 368 thanks to Oliver Price (85) and Ajeet Dale (52) both making career-best scores, while loanee Danny Lamb chipped in with 70. Leicestershire’s skipper Lewis Hill made 103 as they hit back with 350 all out, Oliver Price not only took a career-best three for 40 but also took four catches. Louis Kimber was given out for obstructing the field after hitting the ball into the ground, and then flicking it away with his hand when it bounced up. With the game evenly poised, the hosts were bowled out for just 202, leaving the visitors to chase 221, and Rehan Ahmed set them on their way with a brisk 71, before Colin Ackermann saw them home to a five-wicket win with an unbeaten 78, meaning the home side are still looking for their first win of the season.
Yorkshire had more luck at Chesterfield as they recorded their first win of the season, by three wickets, consigning Derbyshire to the wooden spoon position. The home side were put in to bat and were then rolled over for just 111, with Matthew Fisher taking a career-best five for 30. Dawid Malan’s 106 was the centerpiece of Yorkshire’s reply of 353, despite a career-best five for 83 from Mark Watt. At 17 for four, it seemed Derbyshire were heading for a humiliating innings defeat, but then Haider Ali (140) joined skipper Leus du Plooy (170) and put on 277 for the fifth wicket, with both men making their highest score for Derbyshire. A total of 453 left Yorkshire to chase 212, and the fact that Shan Masood, who’d played so well for the hosts last season, saw them home with an unbeaten 95 won’t have cheered th