Surrey moved 25 points clear at the top after a ten-wicket win over neighbours Kent at The Oval inside three days. The away side was asked to bat first and they relied on an unbeaten 77 from Joey Evison and a Kent-best 43 from Michael Hogan to see them up to 278 all out. It was Surrey’s lower order that gave them a first-innings lead, with Sean Abbott making 78, his highest score for Surrey, and Gus Atkinson hitting 55 not out to take them to 362 all out. For Kent, Dhaka-born Arafat Bhuiyan finally made his first-class debut at the age of 26, having played for six teams at second XI level. It was worth the wait, as Ollie Pope was his first victim, followed by two other England internationals in Ben Foakes and Will Jacks, as he ended up with figures of four for 65. In their second innings, Kent’s top scorer was Tawanda Muyeye (42) as they tumbled to 142 all out, with Tom Lawes picking up a career-best five for 22. The target of 58 was knocked off in 11.3 overs.
Hampshire completed their second innings win over Northamptonshire of the season, beating them inside three days at the Ageas Bowl. Having chosen to bat first, they made 367, James Vince top-scoring with 97. Alex Russell made his first-class debut for the away side, but didn’t take a wicket. Keith Barker (four for 13) destroyed the Northants top order, who fell away to 56 all out and had to follow on. It was their second lowest total against this opposition, narrowly beating the 50 they scored in 1926, and the lowest score by any side this summer (indeed, Northamptonshire now have the three worst totals of the season). In the second innings, it was Liam Dawson who did all the damage, taking six for 61, while Saif Zaib showed some fight to make 57. All out for 176, they lost by an innings and 135 runs. Hampshire joined Warwickshire (who have played one game fewer) in joint second place, on 79 points.
Somerset also won by an innings inside three days, at Lord’s. Middlesex asked the away side to bat first, and a knock of 121 by George Bartlett set them on their way to a hefty total of 404. Matt Henry then took five for 45 to help bowl out the hosts for just 175 and they were forced to follow on. Things didn’t go much better second time round, as they made 216, this time falling to Craig Overton, who finished with five for 46.
The game at Trent Bridge was the only one in the division to go the full distance, ending in a draw after the hosts asked Essex to bat first. The away side scored 298, with Brett Hutton taking four for 69. Nottinghamshire replied with a hefty 442, Matthew Montgomery’s 177 was just one run short of his career best. Alastair Cook also fell one short of a landmark in Essex’s second innings, out for 99 to deny him a 74th first-class century. His side were able to declare on 362 for eight, leaving just enough time for the hosts to get to 97 for four.
In the Second Division, Durham recorded their fourth win of the summer to strengthen their grip on the promotion race. Having chosen to bat first at Bristol, they made full use of the opportunity to make 445, with Graham Clark scoring 100. New recruit Zaman Akhter took his maiden Championship wicket when he dismissed Matty Potts for a duck, but Akhter suffered the same fate himself in both his innings for Gloucestershire. The hosts hit back with 292, with Ajaz Patel taking five for 113. An unbeaten 121 from Michael Jones enabled Durham to declare on 272 for four, setting a daunting target of 426. Marcus Harris carried his bat for 122, but there wasn’t sufficient support from the rest of the line-up (though Josh Shaw did make a career-best 44) as they were all out for 300, losing by 125 runs. Patel took five for 96 to complete match figures of ten for 209.
Leicestershire were put in to bat at Worcester and that decision seemed fully justified when they were bowled out for 173, Colin Ackermann top-scoring with 52. But, in reply, the hosts made just 83 as Chris Wright took five for 32. Leading by 90, the visitors reached 180 in their second innings as Joe Leach picked up five for 41 and Matthew Waite took four for 21, his best figures in the Championship. Needing 271 for victory, easily the highest score of the match after 22 wickets were lost on the first day, Worcestershire got off to a poor start, with both openers out by the time the score reached 2. It was soon after that Adam Hose stepped up to make his highest score for the county, 84, to set them on the way to victory, with Brett D’Oliveira taking 187 minutes to compile his unbeaten 41 to see them home by three wickets. Both sides featured bowlers on loan from Somerset, with Jack Brooks on the winning side, while Josh Davey ended up suffering a defeat.
The match at Hove threw up a series of remarkable records, seemingly out of the blue, after Sussex won the toss and put Glamorgan in to bat. Initially, the decision paid off handsomely as the away side was skittled out for 123, Ollie Robinson taking four for 29. Zain-ul-Hassan, making his first-class debut, scored 22 for Glamorgan. Sussex then took complete charge in their reply, as James Coles (138, a maiden century for the 19-year-old) and Fynn Hudson-Prentice (73, his best score for Sussex) both made landmark scores. Steve Smith looked set to make a hundred when he was harshly adjudged LBW on 89.
A total of 481 meant that Glamorgan needed a formidable 358 just to avoid an innings defeat. Remarkably, they got there with just three wickets down as Marnus Labuschagne (138) and skipper Kiran Carlson (a career-best 192) put on 288 for the fourth wicket. Glamorgan weren’t done, either, as Michael Neser hit a maiden century for the county (123) to complete a great match for the Australian contingent ahead of the Ashes. Meanwhile, Robinson was struggling with an injury, leaving England ten days or so from their first Test of the summer with him and James Anderson both struggling for fitness. Glamorgan finished on 737, the second highest score in their history, a total that included 64 extras. Jack Carson ended up with figures of two for 216, the most runs conceded by any bowler this season. Glamorgan’s 737 was the highest total made in the UK by any side in their second innings (beating the 712 by Northamptonshire against Glamorgan in 1998) and it was also the largest difference in a team’s totals (614 runs) in any first-class match in history. A battle-weary Sussex had to bat just one over before the game was called as a draw. There’s now a three-week break in the County Championship as the focus switches to the Vitality Blast, as well as England’s Test against Ireland, starting on 1 June at Lord’s, followed by the Test Championship final at The Oval between Australia and India, starting on 7 June. Then it’s – who could forget – the Ashes from 16 June. At this stage of the season, Rishi Patel of Leicestershire is the leading runscorer with 568, just ahead of James Rew (564) and Tom Westley (549). Among the bowlers, it’s Warwickshire’s Chris Rushworth (30) who is the leading wicket-taker, just ahead of Brett Hutton, Timm van der Gugten and Matthew Potts, all on 29. With all the injuries building up, Potts may just be earning an England