County Championship round-up: Palladino stars but leaders have a promotion wobble


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The Independent Online

Day one in the final round of the County Championship ended with none of the three contenders for promotion from the Second Division able to make a decisive break as Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Kent fight to decide the last outstanding issue.

Derbyshire, who led by one point from Yorkshire and were six ahead of Kent at the start of play, secured maximum bowling points but have work to do with the bat against Hampshire, closing on 50 for 3 at Derby, some 222 runs behind. Yorkshire did not make the most of Adam Lyth's 69-ball 67 against Essex at Chelmsford, where they closed with two batting points but were eight wickets down. Kent's bowlers recovered well after half-centuries from William Bragg and Stewart Walters for Glamorgan in Cardiff but were frustrated by Jim Allenby's unbeaten century.

Derbyshire have spent the last 12 seasons in the second tier without finishing higher than fifth and this match is the first to offer them a tangible prize since they lost the 1998 NatWest Trophy final.

On a well grassed pitch it was no surprise that they should ask Hampshire to bat when Wayne Madsen won the toss and three wickets for seamer Tony Palladino gave them a perfect start as the visitors stuttered to 26 for 3.

After such a wobbly start, Hampshire might see 272 all out as a respectable score and they would be right, although it perhaps should have been higher. James Vince (114) and Sean Ervine (61) put on 136 for the fifth wicket on a track that proved largely benign but both gave away their wickets tamely, Vince caught at extra cover reaching for a wide half-volley from Ross Whiteley after Ervine had been bowled by David Wainwright, the left-arm spinner, attempting a needless reverse sweep.

In the First Division, in which the title and the two sides relegated were determined last week, Somerset took a major stride towards clinching the runners-up spot for the second time in three seasons when they bowled out relegated Worcestershire for 212 as Abdur Rehman, the Pakistan left-arm spinner, took advantage of a turning pitch to become the second bowler this season to take nine wickets in a first-class innings.

Seamer Peter Trego denied him a full set when he had Chris Russell caught behind but Rehman's figures of 9 for 65 were the best of the season, overtaking the 9 for 67 by Graham Onions against Nottinghamshire. In reply, Somerset have scored 142 without loss.

In the match that once promised to be the title decider, Nottinghamshire were dismissed for 155 as Chris Wright (4-28) and Keith Barker increased their combined aggregate of Championship wickets for the season to 118. Only Paul Franks (44) mounted any lasting resistance but then Warwickshire encountered problems of their own and slid to 90 for 6, pace bowler Andy Carter taking three wickets in 14 balls without conceding a run.

At Chester-le-Street, Onions maintained his position as the season's leading wicket-taker as Sussex were bowled out for 211 before Durham lost their first six wickets for 119.