The inclement weather may have ruined the second Test between England and Pakistan, but it made for a host of dramatic final days in the Bob Willis Trophy fixtures across the country as counties got creative in search of unlikely victories or extra points.
After two days of misery whilst the country was hit with torrential downpours, the skies cleared allowing teams to attempt to negotiate their way to positive outcomes, resulting in some less than impressive declaration bowling, forfeited innings, and some rapid run chases.
The pick of the South Group action came at Arundel Castle as James Fuller took the first Bob Willis Trophy hat-trick, helping Hampshire to a sensational innings victory over Surrey.
Hampshire’s first innings effort of 298 proved to be satisfactory as they surpassed Surrey’s total of 172, Ian Holland the pick of the Hampshire bowlers with his 6-60.
Visitors Surrey were humiliated on the final day as they were bundled out for just 72 in their second innings, only Jason Roy and Jamie Smith reached double figures as they lost by an innings and 52 runs.
Kent and Middlesex couldn’t force a result in their match as Daniel Bell-Drummond and Marcus O’Riordan batted out the remaining overs of the match, having earlier turned to some declaration bowling in an attempt to speed up the match.
A first-innings 99 from Middlesex’s Robbie White was the standout performance from the drawn match.
It was a thriller at Hove between Sussex and Essex as the visitors crept home by three wickets with time running out in the day. Dan Lawrence’s knock of 60 was pivotal in the Essex run chase as Sussex’s George Garton four wickets were ultimately in vain as he looked to stop the run chase in its tracks.
Garton finished the match with nine wickets, an impressive return in a losing effort for the 23-year-old left-arm seamer.
Lancashire saved their best until last as their openers found form just at the right time to halt Nottinghamshire. After bowling Lancs out for 173 earlier on in the day, Notts’ would have been confident of inflicting an innings defeat on the Red Rose county when they made them follow on.
However, 69 not out from wicketkeeper Alex Davies and an unbeaten 37 from Keaton Jennings left Lancs 120-0 at the close of play, still some way short of Notts’ mammoth first-innings effort of 472. Ben Slater and Ben Duckett had earlier made centuries for the Trent Bridge county.
Credit should be given to both Leicestershire and Durham as they tried their hardest to force a result on the final day. Both sides gave up a batting innings as Leicestershire tried to chase down Durham’s 291-8 declared.
The hosts finished 84 runs short for the loss of just three wickets with Sam Evans (85) and captain Colin Ackerman (61) the pick of the batting efforts from the Foxes.
There was no such generosity at Headingley as Yorkshire and Derbyshire played out another drawn match. Dawid Malan’s epic 219 lead the White Rose county to 400-6 declared.
In response, Derbyshire reached 300-7 with Matt Critchley making 63 before everybody settled for a draw. For Malan, his form earned him a recall to England’s T20 squad.
Glamorgan looked deep in trouble on the final day at one stage as they slipped to 138-8, a lead of 70 with plenty of time remaining in the day. However, guided by captain Chris Cooke, the Welsh county managed to bat themselves to safety.
Number 10 batsman Timm van der Gugten bravely hung around with his skipper, batting for 103 balls for his 30 not out and as the overs ticked by, the captains agreed on a draw as the chase edged towards 15 an over. A valiant effort from Glamorgan who ended on 197-8.
For Worcestershire, it was final day joy as Tom Fell’s century set up their victory as they got over the line by 78 runs as Northamptonshire were dismissed for 184.
Northants showed resilience and at one stage might have fancied their chances with Adam Rossington going well, but when he fell to Worcester captain Joe Leach, the writing was on the wall and the visitors took the points.
Warwickshire were left clinging on for dear life at Edgbaston whilst Somerset were left frustrated as, somehow, their match ended in a draw. After being bowled out for 121 in their first innings the hosts’ were always behind in the match.
Somerset piled on the misery as they amassed 413-9 declared with both Steve Davies and Jamie Overton making centuries, Overton’s was all the more impressive as he came in at number 10 in the order.
However, as Somerset went in search of the 10 wickets required on the final day to pick up a deserved win, more rain halted the progress, and Warwickshire were reprieved as they finished on 140-8. Captain Will Rhodes’ 41 from 174 deliveries took up most of the day and earned his side a share of the points.
All the counties will hope for better weather as the Bob Willis Trophy action gets back underway on Saturday.