Danny Briggs starred with bat and ball for Warwickshire against Somerset to ensure they hold a slight upper-hand in the LV= Insurance County Championship title race.
With wickets tumbling between the other Division One contenders Lancashire and Hampshire in Liverpool, events at Edgbaston provided another change in who holds the initiative of a fascinating four-way battle.
Warwickshire started day two knowing reaching 350 in 110 overs was crucial and Briggs’ knock of 53 from 31 balls ensured they achieved that before he claimed two wickets to reduce the visitors to 239 for five at the close.
11 needed off the final over. Nine wickets down. A batting point at stake.
We'll always remember where we were!
— Warwickshire CCC 🏏 (@WarwickshireCCC) September 22, 2021
Half-centuries from Tom Lammonby and Azhar Ali provided resistance for Somerset, but the home side know the equation is simple – win and they will be county champions for the first time since 2012.
Another back-and-forth day occurred at Aigburth where James Vince’s 69 looked to have Hampshire on top before Lancashire fought back admirably late on in the final session.
Pakistan international Mohammad Abbas ran through the hosts in Liverpool to dismiss them for 141, a deficit of just two, and ensure another twist in the title race had occurred.
Having failed to claim any batting points, Lancashire made a great start in the field with Tom Bailey reducing Hampshire to 24 for four but Vince hit back only for Matt Parkinson to pin him in front after an 80-run partnership with Liam Dawson.
It was a telling blow and yet more was to come with Bailey able to bowl Dawson to complete his five-for before the close and leave the away side on 158 for seven, a lead of 160 in a delicately poised match that may see both teams disappointed come its conclusion.
Elsewhere, Nottinghamshire took control of their clash with Yorkshire but a lack of batting points means they will not be involved in the title drama on the final two days of the regular season.
After being dismissed for 296, Luke Fletcher and Joey Evison combined for seven wickets to dismiss Ben Coad’s side for 78 at Trent Bridge. The follow-on was enforced and Yorkshire fared better with Adam Lyth unbeaten on 74 but they still trail by 54 at the close with only seven wickets in hand.
Essex only needed half an hour to wrap up their match with Northamptonshire and clinch more red-ball success in the form of the Division Two crown albeit not the title they wanted.
Shane Snater and Sam Cook had done the majority of the damage on a day one where 25 wickets fell and they caused more chaos to wrap up an innings and 44-run victory at Chelmsford with Cook able to complete a maiden 10-wicket haul for the match while Snater ended with four for seven.
Gloucestershire also eased to victory inside two days, winning by seven wickets after Zafar Gohar once again ran through the Durham batting line-up.
Gohar began the day scoring 30 to help the hosts make 218 in their first innings, a lead of 68, and then had the opposition in a spin again on his way to a six-fer which gave the Pakistani bowler match figures of 11 for 101.
After dismissing Durham for 131, Gloucestershire knocked off their 54-run target inside 10 overs to wrap up their season with a couple of days to spare.
Chris Cooke hit a career-best score of 205 in Glamorgan’s total of 672 for six declared at the Oval and while Surrey closed on 45 without loss, they are set to conclude their campaign battling to force a draw.
Mark Stoneman’s second century for Middlesex has them on course to clinch the Division Three title in their decider with Kent.
Ethan Bamber and Martin Andersson did the damage first up on day two, helping Kent collapse to 138 all out and then it was over to Stoneman, who struck 109 as Middlesex made 298 for six to build a 307-run lead which looks unassailable.
Ben Brown’s unbeaten 150 helped Sussex make a strong start in response to Derbyshire’s 465 at Hove while Jake Libby was one of three players to make fifties for Worcestershire as they closed on 378 for six against Leicestershire.