County Championship Division Two Round Up

Leicestershire pulled off a stunning victory against title favourites Yorkshire, reaching their target of 392 with just seven balls to spare. On a thrilling final day, opener Rishi Patel’s superb maiden century and Colin Ackermann’s aggressive 67 helped give Leicestershire a sniff of victory, but after the departure of Rehan Ahmed, it appeared the away side might have to settle for a draw. But tail-ender Chris Wright had other ideas, striking an unbeaten forty in an unbroken 65-run partnership with the ice-cool Peter Handscomb, who finished on 68 as the duo saw Leicestershire to a famous victory. Yorkshire were made to rue a string of dropped catches as Leicestershire clinched their first championship victory since September 2021 and their first win at Headingley since 1910.

Wright and Handscomb had provided vital contributions in the first innings as Leicestershire replied to Yorkshire’s mammoth 517. Handscomb, in his first game for his new county, made an impressive century, while Wright clubbed an unbeaten 66 to go alongside half-centuries from Ackermann and Ahmed as Leicestershire dragged themselves to 415. Yorkshire’s score had been built around youngster Finlay Bean’s fluent century and Dawid Malan’s free-flowing 132, while nightwatchman Matt Milnes frustrated the visitors on his way to 75, and Dom Bess and Jordan Thompson engaged in some entertaining lower-order hitting. Ahmed recovered to take figures of 3-89 after being belted for 22 in his first over.

With a healthy first-innings lead Yorkshire sought to quickly press home their advantage and give themselves enough time to bowl the visitors out. They eventually declared on 286 early on the final morning, with West Indian Shai Hope making 83 on his debut and George Hill supporting him with a quickfire unbeaten 67. Set 392 to win, Leicestershire rose to their task magnificently, with Patel and Sol Budinger putting on 80 for the first wicket in quick time. Patel went on to make 125, including three well-struck sixes off of Bess as Leicestershire refused to give up, Check out the full scorecard: here

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Sussex put a difficult 2022 behind them with a nail-biting two-wicket victory over Durham at Hove. Heading into the final day needing sixty runs to win and with five wickets in hand, Sussex appeared to be in control, but on a dramatic final morning, Durham took three wickets, and with 24 needed and just two wickets remaining, the away side scented victory. But young wicketkeeper-batsman Oli Carter showed impressive composure to guide his side home with an unbeaten 33, while Jack contributed an invaluable nought not out!

Victory looked a long shot on an entertaining rain-delayed first day as Durham’s openers Alex Lees and Michael Jones plundered an opening stand of 142. Lees clattered an impressive 79 at almost a run-a-ball while Jones made a more circumspect but equally assured 87. However, Sussex recovered as Durham’s middle order all made starts without going on to make substantial scores. The intent was certainly there, Graham Clark striking six sixes in his innings of 47 as Durham totalled 376, Aussie seamer Nathan McAndrew pegging them back with a five-wicket haul on debut. In response, Sussex reached 335 thanks to a sparkling century from Cheteshwar Pujara and some healthy contributions from their tail.

Durham’s slender advantage was wiped out on the third day by a brilliant Sussex bowling performance as they were bundled out for 189, wicket-keeper Ollie Robinson top-scoring with 58. Henry Crocombe bowled with real pace on his way to figures of 4-49, but the real hero was Fynn Hudson-Prentice. The all-rounder wasn’t even in the original XI but was called into action after George Garton failed a concussion test after taking a blow batting the previous day. Hudson-Prentice bowled with real control, finishing with excellent figures of 12-5-27-4.

Tom Haines quickfire sixty appeared to have Sussex coasting to victory, but after his departure and the removal of Pujara just before close, Carter’s cool head was needed on the final morning. Matthew Potts and Brydon Carse peppered him with the short ball, while Aussie spinner Matthew Kuhnemann removed McAndrew and Hudson-Prentice as he tied up the other end. But Carter defended staunchly and cracked the winning runs as Sussex won their opening championship victory for the first time since 2015. See the full scorecard: here

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Worcestershire got their campaign off to a strong start with a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Derbyshire at Derby. Derbyshire batted positively on a rain-interrupted first day, opener Billy Godleman hitting 70 off just 61 balls, while Wayne Madsen continued his strong form from last year with an impressive 87. With Worcestershire 256-6 in response, despite fifties from captain Brett D’Oliveira and Jack Haynes, the game appeared to be in the balance. But Matthew Waite followed up his four wickets in the first innings with a superb maiden hundred, finishing unbeaten on 109 and adding a vital 82 for the last wicket with Ben Gibbon.

With a 150-run deficit, Godleman and Haider Ali scored half-centuries in a 134-run opening partnership, giving their side a strong platform. But Derbyshire’s eventual total of 395 was largely thanks to an unbeaten 95 from their new captain Leus du Plooy, who was given some useful support from Zak Chappell, while Joe Leach and Jack Tongue picked up three wickets apiece for the visitors. Needing 193 to win, Worcestershire lost opener Ed Pollock early on, but Jake Libby’s unbeaten century and 62 from Azhar Ali ensured there were no further alarms. Check out the full scorecard: here

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Gloucestershire staged an impressive second innings fightback to draw with Glamorgan at Cardiff. Faced with a deficit of 249 runs at the start of their second innings, Gloucestershire were on the ropes, but they responded superbly, openers Chris Dent and Marcus Harris leading the way, adding 161 for the first wicket. Harris went on to make 148, adding to his first innings half-century, while Graeme van Buuren made an unbeaten 110 alongside useful fifties from Tom Price and Miles Hammond.

It was frustrating for Glamorgan after Timm van der Gugten had bowled brilliantly to rip Gloucestershire out for 165 in the first innings, finishing 5-26. Centuries from Kiran Carlson and Billy Root helped the Welsh county establish a sizeable lead, putting the home side in a strong position. But Gloucestershire batted far better second time around, and in the end, it was left to Ed Byrom and Billy Root to bat out the remaining overs and see them through to a draw. Check out the full scorecard: here

Check out my Division One round-up: here

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