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County Championship 2024

County Championship round-up: Lawrence’s off-spin impresses and openers nationwide make hay

Dan Lawrence bowling for Surrey
by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

A round-up of all the action from the third day’s play around the grounds in the second round of the 2024 County Championship.

Cox propels Essex towards victory against former club

New Essex signing Jordan Cox hit a rapid second innings hundred against his former club to leave them in a strong position going into the final day at Chelmsford. Ben Compton’s epic century earlier in the day ensured the visitors avoided the follow-on but the speed with which Essex scored in their second means that they begin day four, weather permitting, in a strong position to force through a final day win.

Jennings’ outstanding run continues

It is now over five years since Keaton Jennings last played for England but the 31-year-old opener is in the form of his life. The Lancashire captain hit 172 at the Utilita Bowl; he now averages over 60 since the start of the 2021 County Championship. Jennings’ runs here, as well as George Bell’s 99, Lancashire build a 117-run first innings lead. Hampshire will begin day four on the back foot.

Worcestershire make a mockery of pre-season predictions

If Worcestershire can win at Trent Bridge on Monday, there will be few sweeter victories in the county game all season. Worcestershire finished second in Division Two in 2023 and after losing three of their best young talents to Nottinghamshire, the Pears were widely tipped to finish bottom. Thanks largely to the overseas signing Nathan Smith – who followed a defiant 58 with 4-29 on day three – Worcestershire are three wickets away from potentially having to a sub-250 final day chase.

Spin to win it for Surrey?

There were two statistics from the second day’s play at The Oval that were illuminating. Surrey have already taken more wickets with spin in 2024 than they did in 2023, and new signing Dan Lawrence has already bowled more overs in a County Championship season than he ever did for Essex. A reminder – it is still April 14. The unlikely spin duo of Lawrence and Cam Steel took five wickets between them on the third day, leaving Surrey in a dominant position to register their first win of the summer.

Durham battling to stay alive

Despite birthday boy Alex Lees’ 145 and creditable lower order resistance, Durham were unable to get to 549 and avoid the follow-on. Rob Yates has been a busy man at Edgbaston; he followed his 191 with the first four-wicket haul of his first-class career. He was straight into the action at the start of the second Durham innings, dismissing the visitors’ skipper Scott Borthwick shortly before the close. Durham will resume their second innings on 12-2, 169 runs in arrears.

Derbyshire on the back foot despite Alex Thomson heroics

Prior to this round of fixtures, Derbyshire off-spinner Alex Thomson had 80 first-class wickets to his name across 38 matches. He had never previously taken more than eight wickets in a match. This week at Cardiff, Thomson has taken 12 of the 17 Glamorgan wickets to fall but despite his heroics, his side are behind in the game. They need to haul down an unlikely target of 401 to leave Wales with a victory.

Yorkshire on the verge of victory at Bristol

Adam Lyth was another former England opener in the runs over the weekend, scoring 113 as Yorkshire piled on the runs in the second innings at Bristol. Gloucestershire are already four wickets down in pursuit of 498 and are realistically holding out for the weather to intervene on the final if they are to avoid defeat against the Division Two favourites.

Simpson double puts Sussex on top

New Sussex captain John Simpson scored the first double hundred of his professional career as Sussex amassed 694-9 in their first innings to give themselves an enormous 356-run lead at Grace Road. Victory will be no formaility, however, with the home side losing just one wicket in the final 24 overs of the day.

Middlesex involved in another runfest

After seeing Sam Northeast score a triple hundred against them in the season opener last week, Middlesex have been involved in another runfest in week two. The Seaxes are currently 553-2 in response to Northants’ 552-6; Max Holden and Leus du Plooy have put on 351 unbroken runs for the third wicket.

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