Hampshire 203 & 376-5 Nottinghamshire 211: Read fumbles as Notts wilt

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The Independent Online

Durham are expected to complete an emphatic victory over Kent in Canterbury this morning, a result which would move the county to the top of the Championship and consign their opponents to Second Division cricket. Whether Durham remain at the pinnacle and become champions for the first time in their history will depend on Nottinghamshire's ability to successfully chase down a large total here against Hampshire.

On a pitch offering slow bowlers assistance and against a team containing a good leg-spin bowler the chances of Nottinghamshire achieving the goal are slim. If the pre-match favourites overcome a target in excess of 370 in a maximum of 96 overs they will be worthy, if unexpected, champions.

Nottinghamshire's push for the title fell away with a poor batting display on Thursday, and Chris Read's side did little yesterday to suggest they could claw their way back in to the match. Heavy mist delayed the start of play by 45 minutes; a hindrance that suggests the fate of the county championship ought to have been decided by now, but the home side's bowlers quickly wore the look of resigned and tired men.

Shoddy fielding did not help the mood of the bowlers. Read dropped three catches of varying difficulty, clangers that should keep the anti-Matt Prior brigade quiet. Two of the drops were expensive: Chris Benham added 61 runs to his total while Nic Pothas moved from 39 to three figures.

The wicket of Pothas would have reduced Hampshire to 262 for 5, giving Notts a reasonable chance of bowling their opponents out for a gettable total. Pothas completed his 23rd first-class century when he drove Samit Patel through extra cover for four.

Durham's push for the title gathered momentum when Gareth Breese (121 no) and Philip Mustard (83)put on 148 for the seventh wicket: the stand allowed Durham to gain maximum bonus points. A memorable day for county cricket's newest team was completed when Callum Thorpe removed Kent's top five cheaply. Justin Kemp and Ryan McLaren survived until the close but it can only be a matter of time for Durham.

Angus Fraser's County player of the season

*Ravi Bopara The Essex all-rounder is the top run scorer in the country, accumulating 2,232 in all competitions. He has taken 49 wickets too. This has helped Essex win the FP Trophy, Pro40 Division Two and reach Finals Day in the Twenty20 Cup.