Round 3 Round-Up

A very good weekend for the County Championship and especially for Somerset who won and closed the gap on the top 2 in their group

This format of the County Championship is already throwing up more than its fair share of fantastic games and exciting finishes. The third round was no different. Somerset’s excellent win on Saturday afternoon gave me the opportunity to listen and follow the other games on Sunday to see how other teams are shaping up.

Starting off in Somerset’s group 2 Middlesex had already beaten a beleaguered, Jamie Overton less, Surrey by the time the Toms were walking off Grace Road to sing Blackbird. In the other game Gloucestershire fell one agonising run short of saving the follow on leaving themselves the task of batting a day and a bit to save the game. When they lost three wickets without adding a run early in the last session to slump to 161 for 9 all seemed lost but improbably the last wicket pair of Josh Shaw and Don Goodman batted 18 overs to hold on for the draw.

Somerset as a result stay in third place in the group 16 points off second place but they have closed that gap from 25 last Sunday by virtue of Gloucestershire’s poor bonus points return as well as Somerset’s win. Hampshire are a further three points ahead but still have a possible points deduction hanging over their heads following the “ghost stumping” at Leicester in the first round.

Group 1 saw Essex fail to complete another Houdini act despite Simon harmer’s heroics with the bat. Warwickshire chasing down 256 for the loss of just three wickets at Edgbaston. The other two games in the group were draws with Durham’s bowlers unable to make any impression on Derbyshire second time around while Haseeb Hameed and Ben Slater put together an opening stand of 236 to see their side safe at New Road. Hameed faced 635 balls across the two innings making two hundreds and an aggregate 225 for once out.

Warwickshire with their back-to-back wins top the group on 53 points with Worcestershire, who have drawn all three so far second on 41. Essex ae third with 37 points, level with Derbyshire.

In Group 3 Lancashire and Yorkshire continue to set the pace both winning in the south east. Yorkshire wrapped up a 48 run win at Hove around lunchtime on Sunday thanks to Dom Bess’ 6-53 in the second innings. Lancashire wrapped up an innings & 5 run win at Canterbury to lead the White rose by 6 points. Northants were the other winners in the group as they chased down 357 for the loss of just three wickets thanks to a Glamorgan declaration.

The next round of games starting on Thursday are the reverse of the opening round and with the groups starting to take shape we should have a clearer picture by next Sunday of who are the favourites to reach division one. The fact that the results in this group phase against the team that qualifies for the same division at the end of the season is already adding intrigue. For example if Warwickshire and Essex make it out of group one Essex are already at a disadvantage by virtue of their defeat today.

Somerset have a lot of work to do in their group the points deduction accounting for half the gap between them and second place. Not only do they need to win next week against Middlesex at Taunton but also need to get significant points out of their trip to Bristol in mid-May and the two games against Hampshire. No game in this format can be considered irrelevant at this stage.

Wow, the ECB must be so proud of how much they have invested in this, their premier competition!