Surrey’s recent record at Guildford, where they are winless since 2002, is abysmal and they require a broad backbone to avoid defeat against Essex. With three second-innings wickets in hand they are 217 ahead; victory would take Essex, without a County Championship title since 1992, top of Division One.
Essex are making a superb fist of life in the top flight, and this was one of their best days yet. Ryan ten Doeschate swelled their first innings advantage to 36 with an unbeaten 168, his top score for Essex, then Simon Harmer, finding drift, turn and bounce with men round the bat, and Jamie Porter, hammering at a length and doing just enough with the ball, bowled beautifully to share seven Surrey wickets. Surrey’s hopes lie with Ben Foakes, once of Essex, who has 46.
Ten Doeschate had guided the tail through the first 90 minutes of the day, turning down singles but bunting boundaries between the men in the deep. In the half-hour before lunch, Surrey lost Mark Stoneman, caught at first slip off Porter as second slip parried, but Rory Burns and Scott Borthwick bedded in to share 93 in the face of probing bowling.
By tea, both were gone, though. Borthwick was well taken at short leg off Harmer, then Burns – who had driven nicely in his 57 – was bemused to be given out caught down the legside off Porter. Again, with the lead not yet 100, it was left to Kumar Sangakkara to bail Surrey out. This time he could not, beaten by Harmer’s turn and caught behind in 26 that saw him pass 900 runs for the season.
Dom Sibley was then trapped in front by one that stayed low from Porter, and Sam Curran was well caught at cover off Harmer. Eighteen overs of resistance from Foakes with Gareth Batty was ended by a catch at short leg, giving Harmer – an increasingly canny Kolpak signing – his fourth. Surrey need to grow their lead plenty: while scoring is becoming trickier (particularly off the good length frequented by Porter), boundaries continue to flow and Essex’s batting, as Ten Doeschate showed first time round, is very well stocked.
Middlesex have not lost since the final game of the 2015 season but a torrid performance at Southport leaves them requiring a superb final day to escape without defeat against Lancashire. Ryan McLaren’s 75 and some late humpty from Tom Bailey carried Lancashire from 136 for six to 309 and a first-innings lead of 129, with Tim Murtagh picking up six for 63.
The champions were instantly in trouble, though. They were six down and still behind, with Steve Parry taking three wickets and Saqib Mahmood two, before the shop was steadied by Dawid Malan and James Harris. With four wickets in hand, they lead by just 27.
At Taunton, the equation is simple: Somerset need 161 runs, Yorkshire need six wickets. The visitors piled up 283 in their second innings, with Gary Ballance left stranded two shy of his fourth century of the season, to set Somerset 262 for victory. Dom Bess, the 19-year-old offspinner, worked his way through 36 overs to record five for 80. Somerset made a poor start to the chase, with Steve Patterson took three wickets as they fell to 49 for four. Steve Davies and Adam Hose, on Championship debut, shared an unbeaten 52 to leave the final day tantalisingly poised.
Durham’s wait for a Division Two win lags on, as Kent batted throughout the final day to remain unbeaten, with Sam Northeast making 72 and the last pair, Yasir Shah and Mitchell Claydon, surviving 46 deliveries to secure the draw nine wickets down. Durham’s maximum bonus points will be no tonic: they remain on minus nine points.
Worcestershire, having won their first four games of the season, have lost their way in the wake of the saga that’s seen Tom Kohler-Cadmore join his native Yorkshire with immediate effect. On day one, they had Glamorgan 58 for six, trailing by 209, but they ended up losing by nine wickets before lunch on the third day. Michael Hogan took five wickets to bowl Worcestershire out for 129, before Glamorgan knocked off the required 16 for the loss of just Nick Selman for their second win of the summer.
Northamptonshire recorded their fourth win of the summer, over Derbyshire by 128 runs. Conor McKerr, a 19-year-old seamer on loan from Surrey, took his second five-wicket haul to finish with match figures of 10 for 141 as Northants subsided from 225 for one to 277 all out in their second innings. They responded, though, by bowling Derbyshire out for 191. The absent Luis Reece is feeling better after suffering breathing difficulties on the first day.
Nottinghamshire, are well placed to extend their lead at the top of Division Two after Samit Patel racked up an unbeaten 257 not out, a career best, in their 535 for eight declared against Gloucestershire. That was a lead of 232, and the hosts lost Cameron Bancroft to Luke Fletcher as they reached stumps 30 for one. Nottinghamshire will have James Pattinson available for their One-Day Cup knockout match against Somerset on Tuesday.
Jofra Archer confirmed his status as one of the game’s most promising fast bowlers by turning Sussex’s match with Leicestershire on its head. He took six for 70 (giving him match figures of 11 for 137) as Leicestershire were bowled out for 175 in their second innings (all the more impressive given Sussex were without the injured Vernon Philander), leaving Sussex a target of 232. They closed 100 for two.