A combination of difficult batting conditions and the intervention of bad weather looks likely to work in Durham’s favour as their match at Derby heads towards a draw, unless Yorkshire can work through Sussex’s batting quickly at Hove today.
There is a chance that Andrew Gale’s side might pull off a win on the south coast, given a relatively dry day. At the close last night, having trailed by 34 on first innings, Sussex were effectively 14 for 2 in their second after Liam Plunkett’s fourth delivery removed Michael Yardy, adding to Ryan Sidebottom’s success in bowling Luke Wells with his third. Earlier, seamer Ashar Zaidi took 4 for 57 on his Sussex debut as Yorkshire lost their last six wickets for 76.
Durham’s plan at Derby was to have accumulated a lead substantial enough to have won them the game without the need to bat a second time, and that looked to be a realistic prospect when they were 227 for 2 midway through the afternoon session in reply to Derbyshire’s 298 all out.
Scott Borthwick, who had reached 1,000 first-class runs in the season when he reached 44, looked to be heading to his fourth century in this year’s Championship and Will Smith his second during a stand that had added 159 runs.
But then Borthwick, facing Shivnarine Chanderpaul on 89, hit a full toss straight to mid-on and Smith, on 81, attempting to withdraw his bat from a somewhat better ball from Mark Footitt, edged to second slip. It prompted a rethink, with one or two more bonus points and a draw probably now their best-case outcome.
A draw might suit Derbyshire, too, in their attempt to complete their unlikely escape act at the other end of the table, although that would depend on the result at Taunton, where only a couple of hours’ play were possible, but where Surrey are in trouble at 97 for 4. A Somerset win would leave Surrey in dire straits and make survival a tall order for Derbyshire too.
Essex, chasing the second promotion place in Division Two, lost a similar amount of time at Canterbury, but Kent are 56 runs behind and four wickets down, following on, so Essex might yet achieve a victory.