County Championship set up for thrilling finale | Rob Smyth

Division One could hardly be more finely poised with Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Yorkshire all vying for the title

The scenario is one for which football would probably kill its own granny: the final match of the season and three sides still in contention for the title. That is the case in Division One of the County Championship, with Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Yorkshire all in with a shout. It is a fitting end to a season which, despite the problems caused by the England and Wales Cricket Board's scheduling, has produced some seriously good four-day cricket.

Such a photo finish seemed unlikely a fortnight ago, when Nottinghamshire were 16 points clear with a game in hand. Then they lost unexpectedly to Durham and dramatically to Yorkshire. Now they know that only a win away to Lancashire with at least seven bonus points will guarantee the title. Nottinghamshire have 205 points, two ahead of Somerset, who are away to Durham, and seven ahead of Yorkshire, who host a beleaguered Kent.

Whichever side wins, its story will have significant charm. Somerset are chasing their first County Championship, Yorkshire are trying to win it with kids and Nottinghamshire are looking for fulfilment after finishing second in the last two seasons.

The three teams' main opponent might not be on the pitch but overhead: it can be grim up north at the best of times, never mind in late September, and the forecast for Durham in particular is not the best. Their opponents, Somerset, were unlikely contenders when they lost their first two matches of the season – to Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire – but are unbeaten since then and will also play Warwickshire in the CB40 final next Sunday. It could be a momentous six days.

"It's hard not to be aware of the fact that we are looking to create history for Somerset," said Craig Kieswetter. "When you sign for the club you learn of its traditions and we know how much it means to our supporters.

"We are as determined as they are but we must take the Durham game day by day and session by session, not getting ahead of ourselves. Every away trip in the Championship is tough but the encouraging factor about going to Chester-le-Street is that it is likely to be a result wicket.

"Durham are not as strong as they were as a side but it would be unprofessional of us to take them lightly, so we will be preparing as if it's a cup final and going out to play the best cricket we can.

"I think the final fixtures for all three title contenders are equally difficult. Kent have been really inconsistent this season but at their best they are capable of giving Yorkshire a hard game while Notts have to go to Old Trafford."

That game will be live on TV and it is arguable that Notts have the hardest task of all. Indeed the difficulty of each side's match is probably in inverse proportion to its position. Add in the weather and it is clear there are no guarantees. It could scarcely be more beautifully poised.

Contributor

Rob Smyth

The GuardianTramp

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