Round-up: Essex's ambitions on the rise

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The Independent Online

Essex effectively secured promotion to Division One of the County Championship by completing the formality of beating the wooden-spoonists, Durham, at Chester-le-Street. Sitting comfortably in second place behind promoted Middlesex, they would now have to lose badly to third-placed Nottinghamshire at Chelmsford next week, failing to score any bonus points, while Worcestershire in fourth place took a maximum 20 points off fifth-placed Derbyshire.

Essex effectively secured promotion to Division One of the County Championship by completing the formality of beating the wooden-spoonists, Durham, at Chester-le-Street. Sitting comfortably in second place behind promoted Middlesex, they would now have to lose badly to third-placed Nottinghamshire at Chelmsford next week, failing to score any bonus points, while Worcestershire in fourth place took a maximum 20 points off fifth-placed Derbyshire.

The latter, having had eight points taken away because of a poor pitch against Middlesex, would also need Worcestershire to gain no points at all while they secured the full quota to gain promotion.

Durham, who clung on at Nottingham last week thanks to the weather, reverted to form by losing by 10 wickets. They resumed on 264 for 7 in the second innings after being bundled out first time around to leave themselves 276 runs behind Essex. But the tail put up little resistance as they subsided to 314 all out, leaving Essex to knock off 42 for 0.

At Trent Bridge, Worcester-shire had gone back out to bat on Friday evening knowing that attaining a target of 249 would probably see them promoted ahead of rivals Notting-hamshire. But their excellent batting line-up collapsed to 40 for 4. They fared little better yesterday as Vikram Solanki and Graeme Hick fell in rapid succession. Former England A paceman Andrew Harris took 5 for 56 as the visitors were all out for 134 to lose by 114 runs, Nottinghamshire leap-frogging Hick's side into the promotion places.

Kent, in second place in Division One, held at bay a late bid by Leicestershire to grab the money accruing from the runners-up spot by beating fourth-placed Lancashire at Canterbury. The Red Rose county may have been more interested in seeing their rivals across the Pennines all but condemned to relegation.

They resumed in a healthy position to save the game on 224 for 3, having been made to follow on, but Mark Chilton was dismissed almost immediately for 90. Only skipper Warren Hegg put up further meaningful resistance as the visitors were dismissed for 351. Neeing 144 to win, Ed Smith's 68 led his side to a six-wicket victory on 144 for 4.

In the up-and-down merry-go-round, only the match between Hampshire and Surrey at the Rose Bowl had no significance, the former having become the first side to be relegated and the latter already crowned Champions. Surrey declared on their overnight 422 for 8, 513 runs ahead.

The home side began badly, falling to 27 for 3 with John Crawley out second ball. But Zimbabwean Neil Johnson made 86 and wicketkeeper Nic Pothas was unlucky to fall on 99 after adding 98 with Dimitri Mascarenhas, who made 67. The innings ended on 390 with Martin Bicknell taking 5 for 56 and leg-spinner Ian Salisbury 4 for 116 in the 123-run victory.

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