County Championship round-up: Somerset on the brink of historic first title

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The Independent Online

Somerset have already waited 119 years to win the County Championship but this evening may still seem like an eternity away as they stand on the brink of their first title. With Nottinghamshire, who held a two-point lead coming into the final round of fixtures, being held up once again by poor weather at Old Trafford, Somerset enjoyed a full-day's play against Durham and now sit six points clear at the head of the First Division.

Durham will resume this morning 31 runs ahead with eight second-innings wickets left and, perhaps most important of all from Somerset's point of view, a decent forecast for the north-east. On the other side of the country further showers are predicted to bring even more frustration to Nottinghamshire, who once held a 54-point lead over Somerset.

If Somerset, who took maximum batting bonus points thanks to James Hildreth's seventh championship century of the season, can press home their advantage and claim victory at Chester-le-Street then they will be champions – unless Notts somehow score over 300 more runs and take 20 Lancashire wickets.

Notts' hopes rest on conjuring nine points from the final day and hoping Somerset fail to win. That would leave the two level on points and Notts champions by virtue of having won one more game. But that is far from straightforward. From their current 89 for 2 they would have to pass 400 and then take at least three Lancashire wickets, or contrive some sort of finish with the hosts. "You've got to keep the integrity of the game to the extent where you can't give anything away," said Mick Newell, Notts' director of cricket.

Hildreth is enjoying his most prolific season, finally at 26 delivering consistently on his early promise. He made 105 as Somerset galloped along at more than four an over. The title is finally firmly in their sights.

The ECB have suspended Dimitri Mascarenhas for two-weeks at the start of next season for his Twitter outburst describing Geoff Miller as a "knob" and a "prick". The former England all-rounder pleaded guilty to a "serious breach" of ECB regulations and was also fined £500.