Just the three matches still ongoing in what has been a bit of a helter-skelter round of Championship fixtures this week.
Somerset are closing in on a Division One win over Worcestershire at New Road, one which would keep the pressure on leaders Surrey. The hosts are 50-2 chasing 443, with Jamie Overton bursting through the defences of Moeen Ali with the final ball of day three last night. If, as looks very likely, Somerset can wrap up their fourth win in eight matches, it would cut Surrey’s lead at the top to 34 points with six to play. Somerset host Surrey at Taunton in the penultimate round of matches in mid-September. But the way Surrey are going, it could all be done and dusted by then.
In Division Two, the two fixtures yet to finish have little impact on the promotion picture, although still hold great attraction for many given the quality of out-ground venues at Chesterfield and Cheltenham respectively.
At the former, Northamptonshire have the marginal advantage as they pursue 314 to beat hosts Derbyshire, although it is far from a foregone conclusion at 174-3. If the visitors get there on a turning pitch against an attack with two promising spinners in Matt Critchley and Hamidullah Qadri, it would be a ground record chase at Queen’s Park.
At Cheltenham College, Durham are 35-0 chasing 340 to beat bottom side Gloucestershire, who will be confident of claiming their second win of the season. A lot rests on the shoulders of Tom Latham and Ben Stokes for Durham.
India also begin their practice match against Essex at Chelmsford before next week’s first Test, with the game now three days and not four. There have been suggestions in the Indian media that the change comes as a result of concerns over the pitch conditions, but Essex insist it is because of high temperatures forecast in the south.
Returning to the Championship for a second, it hasn’t half been a cracking round of fixtures. A couple of two-day finishes at Hove and Canterbury, one of the best ever hat-tricks going for Jordan Clark at Old Trafford, where Joe Root claimed four for five with his offies as Yorkshire completed a significant Roses victory on Tuesday and a host of other standout performances, including some for Root’s England colleagues. A superb advert for the format which is still king.