Well, that's been quite a four days, hasn't it? Thanks for your company and just a reminder that we'll be back next week to bring you all the twists and turns in the final week of the season.
And here's the fixtures for next week. By my reckoning there's only one game with nothing resting on it, to start with anyway. Fixture-planning genius, or just pure fluke?Division One:
Durham v Somerset, Emirates Durham ICG
Hampshire v Warwickshire, The Rose Bowl
Lancashire v Nottinghamshire, Old Trafford
Yorkshire v Kent, HeadingleyDivision Two:
Glamorgan v Derbyshire, Swalec Stadium
Gloucestershire v Surrey, Bristol
Northants v Leicestershire, Northampton
Worcestershire v Sussex, New Road
Right, here we go:Division One:
Nottinghamshire - 205 pts
Somerset - 203
Yorkshire - 198
Lancashire - 176
Durham - 165
Hampshire - 153
Warwickshire - 144
Kent - 129
Essex - 126 (relegated)Division Two:
Sussex - 231 pts (promoted as champions)
Glamorgan - 197
Worcestershire - 188
Leicestershire - 176
Gloucestershire - 169
Northants - 164
Middlesex - 155
Surrey - 142
Derbyshire - 130
Right, give me a few minutes and I'll bring you the tables.
Well, that was quite a finish, wasn't it? Congratulations to Hampshire and commiserations to Kent, who, despite defeat, live to fight another day. All it needs is for Kent to pick up plenty of bonus points and win at Headingley, and for Hampshire to beat Warwickshire. Simple, eh?
Got him! Tomlinson bounds in but Cook can only fend it to short leg, where Jimmy Adams takes the catch. Hampshire win by 130 runs with minutes to spare to guarantee they will be playing Division One cricket next season.
Bandara safely negotiates another Cork over, leaving Cook to face Tomlinson.
Sorry, Kent fans, we're into overtime. The minimum number of remaining overs have been bowled but there's still 12 minutes left. There's batting to do to save this game yet.
From Barney Trafford in TMS inbox:
"I glance at the live text and Kent are nine down, so I think 'it's in the bag and Hampshire are safe'. I then check back 10 minutes later to see that two batsmen have had a reprieve and they are only seven down. Is this the referral system completely taking over or a slightly over excited text commentator?"Sounds like a delay in the scorecard feed to me Barney. Kent are nine down, but Simon Cook is just having treatment after being hit on the glove by Cork.
Malinga Bandara plays and misses at James Tominson's second ball but gets through the over. Quite a finish, this.
New ball available to Hampshire and Dominic Cork takes it immediately and re-enters the attack. Coles keeps the first three balls out but lofts the fourth to Briggs at mid-on. Coles queries whether it carried but the umpires have no doubts and he's on his way. Kent 244-9 and, Simon Cook, it's your chance to be a hero.
From Punchbowl Pete in TMS inbox:
"Ref "full 11 overs to go", please forgive my ignorance, but does the extra half hour come into play, and if so is that on top of the 11 overs?"It's against the clock now Pete. There's now a minimum of four overs left and once those have been bowled they will play until just after 1730 I reckon.
Briggs in again and Tredwell defends the first two balls. But he then tries to sweep the third, gets a top edge and wicketkeeper Michael Bates takes the catch. Kent are now 235-8. Any finger nails left Kent and Hampshire fans?
Hampshire are rattling through the overs, but Coles plays out another maiden without alarm. The way they're going Hampshire are going to get more overs in.
It's all about survival now for Kent and Tredwell plays out a maiden over. Minimum of seven overs left.
Tredwell is farming the strike very effectively, taking a single off Carberry's fourth ball and Coles sees it out. Kent 235-7.
Tredwell pulls Briggs behind square for two and then takes a single to keep the strike as Kent inch towards a draw.
James Tredwell takes a single off the third ball of Michael Carberry's over to move Kent to 231-7, before Matt Coles plays out the final three deliveries. That's one over ticked off for Kent.
Well, they were until seconds ago when Alex Blake went for a big shot looking to reach his 50 but only succeeded in hitting Danny Briggs high to mid-wicket where, this time, Vince holds on. Blake gone for 46 and Kent are 229-7. And there's still a full 11 overs left.
Just to let you know I will be bringing you the tables and next week's all-important fixtures once we've finished at Canterbury, where Kent are 229-6.
Just entered the final hour at Canterbury.
At Canterbury, James Vince has dropped Alex Blake at first slip off the bowling of James Tomlinson. How costly could that be?
Hands are shaken at The Oval with Surrey 206-7. Glamorgan's draw means Sussex are crowned Division Two champions.
SUSSEX ARE DIVISION TWO CHAMPIONS From Jeremy Stagg in TMS inbox:
"Come on Glamorgan, pull the plug! Sussex have a title to celebrate, enough with the Surrey forward defence already!"
Looks like it's going to go the distance at Canterbury as James Tomlinson pins Sam Northeast lbw for a defiant 71. Kent are 191-6 and Hampshire need four wickets to guarantee survival.
Like Ben Harmison, Chris Schofield misses out on a ton. He charges down the track to Jamie Dalrymple, misses with a leg-side heave and Mark Wallace takes off the bails. He's gone for 90 and Surrey are 199-7... not that it really matters.
From Pete in TMS inbox:
can anyone tell me why Essex, having just taken a wicket, offered the draw? Seems a bit tame to me, especially in their perilous position."To be fair, Pete, they are already relegated and do have a CB 40 semi-final against Somerset at Taunton tomorrow.
Only a matter of time before they shake hands at The Oval too - if and when Chris Schofield reaches his century I would think. He's currently on 86.
While we've still got two games going on, just a reminder that Stephan and I will be back from Monday with live text commentary of the climax of the County Championship. You can also hear coverage from tomorrow's Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-finals and the Championship games on
5 live sports extra
BBC local radio.
I get the feeling that Essex have settled for a draw as Alastair Cook is turning his arm over at Chelmsford. Blimey, he's got a wicket too - as Ben Harmison holes out to Tony Palladino at deep mid-wicket for 96. Essex aren't going to press on for victory, though, as James Foster instantly offers his hand to Phil Mustard. Match drawn.
Back out at Canterbury and The Oval too. Oh, and it's game on at the St Lawrence ground where Dominic Cork bowls Darren Stevens with the third ball after the resumption. New man is Alex Blake, who just avoids a king pair.
Underway again at Chelmsford.
From BBC London's Mark Church at
"Tea - Surrey 157-6, Schofield unbeaten on 77, a very good innings but the race for promotion will be going into the final week..."
Time for a cuppa at Canterbury and The Oval too. Northeast and Stevens have done a fine job to guide Kent to the interval at 159-4. 219 left to win in a minimum of 29 overs for Rob Key's men, but I'll wager they won't be chasing that. South of the Thames, Surrey are 157-6 after batting Glamorgan out of the game. It's not over till it's over but Sussex can dust off the Division Two crown because they will be champions this evening, while Glamorgan's promotion push will go to the final game.
Tea time at Chelmsford, with Durham heading for the pavilion at 180-5. Will Essex have the stomach for pushing for victory in the final session or will they shake hands and head for Taunton an hour early ahead of their CB 40 semi-final tomorrow?
It seems a long time since that clatter of wickets at The Oval this morning, but Glamorgan finally have another breakthrough. That wily old campaigner Robert Croft gets it, having Gary Wilson caught. Surrey lead by 249 at 145-6 and a draw is increasingly on the cards.
From Neil Rennie in the TMS inbox:
"Very surprised Hants felt the need to bat for another hour this morning - Hope they don't regret that at 5pm."Getting nervous Hampshire fans?
Ben Harmison is leading the Durham resistance at Chelmsford by going to 50 off 142 balls, his second half-century of the game. Northeast also goes to 50 - his fourth in first-class cricket this summer - off 125 balls when he turns one to mid-wicket.
From Kevin Messenger in the TMS inbox:
"Ref: SundayTrundler In Leicestershire, I see you are plugging the local derby to finish the season against the mighty FVCC. It will also see us rolling out Frankie Smith, who we can only take a guess at being 65 years plus but also our leading wicket taker with 50 odd wickets!"
From Gina in Gloucestershire in the TMS inbox:
"Steve - glad you are back, you were doing so much better for us (Hampshire) than Stephan was!"Maybe so, but Sam Northeast and Darren Stevens are steadying the ship at Canterbury with a half-century stand. Northeast is 49 not out - his highest score of the season at the St Lawrence Ground. Kent 140-4.
From Herbie in the TMS inbox:
"KP is truly an enigma in so many ways. For example Hampshire is too far away from his Chelsea home to play cricket for them. Kwa-Zulu Natal on the other hand...."
We have our second result of the day folks. Gloucestershire are all out for 158 and Leicestershire have won by a whopping 329 runs. Foxes eyes will now be on events at The Oval where a draw would mean they still have an outside sniff of nicking that second promotion place.
I've sent the boy Shemilt off to a darkened room. He was getting frazzled by all those wickets. I just need a little favour from you guys now - a manual refresh.
That's it, I'm done and I'll hand you back to Steve Marshall
. I need a lie down.
And now it's all over at Lord's. Steve Finn takes a swipe at Shakib and is caught by wicketkeeper Ben Cox. The former Bangladesh captain ends with career-best figures of 7-32 and Middlesex are all out for 66. Worcestershire are firmly in the hunt for promotion.
How does this keep happening? As soon as a wicket goes down at Lord's, Leicestershire take another at Grace Road. Gloucestershire are 157-9.
I'm back up to speed so Neil Dexter will be feeling less wrath than Jon Lewis. Dexter has been caught at leg slip off Moeen Ali, leaving Worcestershire one wicket from victory.
From Sunday Trundler in Leicestershire, in the TMS inbox:
"The mighty Kibworth Sunday XI will be taking their last trundle this week. The usual story of dropped catches and missed opportunities, but the-cakes-eaten-per-match ratio must be up there with the best of them. One player who stills turns out midweek is in his mid 70s. Any other clubs out there will a similar old 'un?"
From BBC London's Mark Church at
"Wilson and Schofield playing well. Surrey 94-5, lead by 198."
1406:From Leon Watson in the TMS inbox:
Jon Lewis, what did I just say about not getting out? You are going to see my bad side. Leg before to Jigar Naik, Gloucestershire are 156-8.
"The mighty King's Road Cricket & Social Club will be out for the last time in 2010 tomorrow facing the Harris XI. With a terrible two wins in 18 matches this year, The Road will be hoping to get back on track win an end of season win. Myself, I'm on a barren run - something like 150 runs all season. Not good."
OK, struggling to keep up now. If batting sides around the country could stop losing wickets for a few minutes it would help me out a lot. This time, the man making the walk back to the "hard lucks" of his team-mates is Geraint Jones, trapped lbw by Dominic Cork. Kent are 78-4.
More wickets and the promotion-chasing plot in Division Two thickens further. Predictably, Middlesex have lost another. Toby Roland-Jones trudges back to the pavilion to make it 58-8, while at Grace Road, Leicestershire pick up one more to keep their slim hopes alive and move the end closer for Gloucestershire. 152-7.
The remarkable turnaround at Lord's is bad news for Glamorgan. If Worcestershire win, their hopes of being promoted with a game to spare disappear.
It's a procession at the home of cricket as Middlesex's batsman turn to jelly against the left-arm tweakers of Shakib. Tim Murtgah is the latest victim as the hosts slump to 54-7.
And another goes at Lord's. This time it's Gareth Berg, who lasts just two balls before becoming Shakib's fourth victim. 54-6.
A poignant moment at Lord's as Owais Shah leaves headquarters as a Middlesex player for the last time. He's been caught by Jack Shantry off Shakib Al Hasan for 25 to leave the hosts staring down the barrel at 54-5.
From JimboHammers - Sir Bobby Moore on 606:
Durham have lost another in pursuit of that massive target at Chelmsford. Ian Blackwell has gone lbw to Tom Westley and it looks like Essex will be signing off from Division One with a victory. 143-5.
"The youngsters are doing well for Hampshire. Vince and Dawson both getting half-centuries and now Danny Briggs taking wickets."
Plug time. You can hear coverage from tomorrow's Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-finals and, from Monday, the climax to the County Championship on
5 live sports extra
BBC local radio.
I think England might have a couple of games too...
From devonFRATTONiser on 606:
Back on at Grace Road, Gloucestershire 118-6.
"Eight wickets in two sessions and Hampshire are safe."They already have one....
More trouble for Kent as Martin van Jaarsveld edges Danny Briggs to slip. The home side are 39-3 at Canterbury.
Are Worcestershire going to keep their promotion hopes alive in the most remarkable style? Shakib Al Hasan has struck twice to leave Middlesex 37-4 in pursuit of 178.
Back out at Canterbury, Chelmsford, The Oval and Lord's. Still raining at Grace Road.
Before the afternoon's action begins I'd like to ask if there's any club cricketers out there who will be playing their last game of the season tomorrow? Got any runs? Wickets? Or has the season been one crushing disappointment after another? I'd like to hear your bragging and your tales of woe.
Thanks Steve. If you lovely lot would be so kind to hit manual refresh then we'll crack on.
As everyone's off at the moment, I'm heading off into the Birmingham drizzle for a break. I'll leave you in the hands of a man who always walks when he nicks it, Stephan Shemilt.
Another passing shower hits Grace Road and Leicestershire and Gloucestershire are off the field again.
Clearly a wise decision to take an early lunch at Grace Road as we're back underway there.
From BBC London's Mark Church at
"Lunch arrives with Surrey 41-5 - a lead of 145. Terrific spell of bowling by James Harris. Interesting afternoon now in prospect..."
From BBC Radio Kent's Peter Guise at
"The sun is now shining at Canterbury so batting could be easier this afternoon. Kent will certainly hope so!"
From James in TMS inbox:
"Re: 1222 - If Shah signs for the Essex boys it would be an amazing signing. The thought of our great one-day team being improved even further with Shah in with the likes of Ten Doeschate, Bopara and Napier means a better shot than this year's attempt at the T20
as long as Dwayne Bravo stays away!!"
Lunch being taken everywhere, so here's how things stand. In Division One
Durham are 127-4 at Chelmsford, needing an unlikely 332 more to win. Kent are 32-2 at Canterbury, 346 short of their victory target. In Division Two
Surrey have rallied to 41-5, a lead over Glamorgan of 145, Gloucestershire are 116-6 at Grace Road and, at Lord's Middlesex are 36-3, needing 142 more to win, after Shakib Al Hasan bowled Dawid Malan just before the break.
As I suspected, lunch is being taken at Grace Road.
Uh oh! Kent are in a bit of bother themselves now as Danny Briggs pins Rob Key leg before and Kent are 31-2. Would you take a draw now Kent fans?
Bad news Leicestershire fans, rain has stopped play at Grace Road. Given the time, I wonder whether an early lunch may be in order. No such problems at Lord's, though, where Alan Richardson has struck again and Middlesex are 30-2. But surely it's written in the stars that Owais Shah will win the game for Middlesex as he's playing his last innings for them at Lord's?
From Sarah via text on 81111:
"'How do you solve a problem like Kevin Pietersen? How do you hold a Woodworm in your hand? When I watch him, I'm confused. Out of form and bemused, and I never know exactly where I am.' KP the musical, coming to the West End soon!"
From Geraint Jones in TMS inbox:
"Back at the start of the season I replied to a 606 header asking for a young player of the season to watch with my suggestion of James Harris of Glamorgan. He's been a gem all season and should be Aussie bound with the Lions........come on Glam!"
The Geraint Jones? Ashes winner and Kent wicketkeeper? It's possible, Kent are batting.
Essex have another wicket, and it's a big one too. Chris Wright bowls Michael di Venuto for 58 and Durham are now 100-4. Win today and Essex will certainly head to Somerset for their CB 40 semi-final full of confidence. One last mention of KP too, his single came off 23 balls. He's not going to list it among his most memorable innings.
From Andi in TMS inbox:
"What is this? Dominic Cork Appreciation Day? Hampshire haven't won yet!"
From Chris - should be working in South Wales - in TMS inbox:
"Glamorgan have made a little habit this season of pulling off unlikely wins on the last day. Surrey skittled, Cosgrove to knock off the runs, promotion sorted and title race for Division Two still on! Come on boys!"
Quick update from Lord's where Worcestershire have been bowled out for 256 to set Middlesex 178 to win. They've made an early breakthrough too, Alan Richardson trapping John Simpson leg before first ball. Leicestershire have a breakthrough too as Claude Henderson has bowled Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman. Glos have since moved on to 104-6 but are still staring defeat squarely in the face.
Good news for the Dominic Cork appreciation society as the Hampshire captain has Joe Denly caught behind by Michael Bates and Kent are 15-1.
From BBC London's Mark Church at
"And Pietersen goes... he walks across his stumps to James Harris and is lbw for 1. Surrey are 21 - 5."
Big credit to James Harris by the way as he's so far taken 4-14. Not bad, eh?
You know I said that KP had one... well that's all he's going to get as James Harris pins him lbw. Surrey are now 21-5 and in big trouble. Remember, a Glamorgan win will secure them promotion and deny Sussex the title for the time being.
From Lee Emmerson in TMS inbox:
"Re: the pitch at Canterbury - how does it go from being a 'result' pitch on the first day to having nothing in it and being good for a run chase on the fourth day?"Seems like a reasonable question. Perhaps Kent fans can enlighten us? I'll also quiz our man at the ground.
KP prods into the off-side and picks up a single to get off the mark. No doubt he's feeling a little better now.
From Ste in TMS inbox:
"Sounds like Harriet needs a shoulder to cry on there! Anyway I echo her sentiments about Dominic Cork. Can we have a Dominic Cork day? Stories about him and congratulations etc? He's worth it."
Another one goes at The Oval. Rory Hamilton-Brown loses his middle stump to Harris and Surrey are 20-4. Oh, and KP is still on a pair...
Delighted to see we're now underway at Grace Road. And at Chelmsford, Essex look like they may well end their Championship campaign on a high as Tom Westley bowls Dale Benkenstein to leave Durham 60-3 and still a long, long way behind.
From BBC Radio Kent's Peter Guise at
"Hampshire piled on the runs on the morning of Day Four then declared on 355-9 to set Kent 378 to win in 81 overs at a rate of 4.66. Should be an exciting run chase, then!"
From st_brendy on 606:
"Re: Gina (1036). A win doesn't virtually guarantee us safety, it does guarantee us safety! It would put us 24 points clear of Kent, and so even if we failed to pick up a single point against Warwickshire & Kent picked up all 24 against Yorkshire, Kent could only draw level with us. In that instance, the first tie-breaker is most wins. This would be level at three each. The second tie-breaker is fewest defeats, and this would be Hants 6 Kent 7. So Hampshire survive. We win today. We are safe."
Another wicket at The Oval and it's a duck... but it's Mark Ramprakash who has gone, edging Harris to Tom Maynard. Surrey are now 14-3 and have lost all three wickets for no runs. At Canterbury, Hampshire have declared on 355-9 following the fall of James Tomlinson. That gives Kent 378 to win in 81 overs.
Hampshire have been going great guns but Chris Wood gives James Tredwell a return catch to depart for 24, with his side 342-8, a lead of 364. James Vince is still there unbeaten on 67.
Essex have their first wicket of the morning too, where Max Osborne has Gordon Muchall caught by Jaik Mickleburgh, who will end the season as his side's highest scorer in first-class cricket this summer.
Double breakthrough for Glamorgan where James Harris removes Tom Lancefield and Huw Waters takes the wicket of Jason Roy to leave Surrey 14-2, a lead of 118. Here comes KP... and remember he's on a pair.
From Harriet Marlow in TMS inbox:
"A sad day when the only man in your life who always delivers his best efforts, is passionate and dedicated, gets you expensive gifts (trophies) and never fails to amaze you is... your county captain. Thank goodness for Dominic Cork, sustaining my failing belief in men. Sigh"
Surrey have made a steady start in their second innings and are 12-0. Across the Thames, Worcestershire are now nine down at Lord's, with Pedro Collins having Jack Shantry caught behind for a duck.
From Andrew Palmer in TMS inbox:
"Can I ask you a favour? If you find you need to mention Essex today, could you try and do it without tagging them 'already relegated'? It was a painful day yesterday, and another might tip me over the edge."How about CB 40 semi-finalists or next season's Division Two promotion hopefuls? Or is it still too raw for that?
From Gina in Gloucestershire in TMS inbox:
"Thank you Steve. Set them 375 to win I think. You'll be pleased to know I have matching heels on today by the way."Certainly beats one smooth shoe and one suede one.
Malinga Bandara has the breakthrough for Kent, trapping Cork lbw to leave Hampshire 307-7, a lead of 329. Meanwhile at Lord's, Toby Roland-Jones has also pinned Worcestershire's key man Moeen Ali leg before for 81. Worcestershire now 215-8.
Hampshire are past 300. 33 runs in four overs this morning suggests they are looking to set Kent a target some time this morning. Dominic Cork clearly wants the win that will all but secure their survival.
From Chris in the TMS inbox:
"The idea of Kent having to bat out most of the day to avoid losing fills me with dread. Bring on the rain! Even so, a draw is only delaying the inevitable."
Gina, I have a pitch report for you from the St Lawrence Ground. BBC Radio Kent's Peter Guise says:
"Nothing much in the pitch. Should be good for a run chase later when the weather clears a bit."
Right, we're back underway everywhere apart from Grace Road where there will be an inspection right about now. I suppose, technically, they're not playing at The Oval either as Jade Dernbach has trapped Huw Waters leg before and Glamorgan are 276 all out. Surrey batting again very soon.
From Gina in Gloucestershire in TMS inbox:From BBC Radio Kent's Peter Guise at
"I believe Hampshire have to go for the throat today. With only three points for a draw, and with a win virtually making us safe, Corky has to give us time to bowl them out. Do you know whether it is still a good pitch? On a more general point, I think Somerset will win the title, providing great and deserved reward for their captain, the country's best batsman, a decent man and a once troubled man - Marcus Trescothick."I'll see what I can find out about the pitch Gina.
"Overcast at Canterbury but play will start on time at 1030 with Hampshire 294 ahead. It could be an exciting day with Kent having to chase a sizeable total to give themselves a chance of preserving their Division One status."
From BBC London's Mark Church at
"All set for a prompt start at 1030. Should be an interesting final day. Draw looks most likely result which would be no bad thing for Glamorgan."Or indeed for Sussex, as that would clinch the Division Two title for the Hove side.
Ok, so maybe rollercoaster isn't the right analogy for the game at Canterbury, which I suspect will be more akin to a game of poker. It's a game both Kent and Hampshire would love to win, but one that the hosts really cannot afford to lose. And I'm sure Warwickshire will be more than happy if they settle for a draw as even that way Kent would have to beat Yorkshire at Headingley to drag the Bears into the relegation dogfight.
Three down, five games to finish. Ready to climb aboard the County Championship rollercoaster for the last time this week? Me too.