First Division anything but signed, sealed and delivered
Saturday 03 September 2011
Even in a two-division County Championship, designed to minimise meaningless cricket, there are usually a few dead rubbers once September dawns. Not this year – in the First Division, at any rate.
Even Nottinghamshire, safe from relegation and not a realistic contender for the title they won in 2010, believe they can snatch fourth-place prize money by pipping fading Somerset.
Lancashire's defeat in a day and a half at Worcester has kept the top flight bubbling merrily, putting what is effectively do-or-die pressure on Yorkshire to win at Edgbaston against a Warwickshire side who will be clear favourites for the title should they come out on top.
Warwickshire drew level with Lancashire at the top on 201 points when they claimed their third batting point yesterday morning but Durham need only six more wickets as Sussex have a near-impossible target at Hove to total 211 points. The champions of 2008 and 2009 have only one match left against their rivals' two but will back themselves to beat Worcestershire at home, despite the latter's revival in the relegation fight.
Their presumed success on the South Coast, where Will Smith made his third century of the season and Durham declared 520 in front with four sessions left, also makes Sussex vulnerable, particularly if Yorkshire win and Hampshire knock Somerset out of title contention at Taunton.
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