Scores to be settled in season's final fights - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

Scores to be settled in season's final fights

Can Onions hang on as top wicket-taker? Will Sussex be relegated – yet still win one-day silverware? As the county game enters its final week, Jon Culley highlights the tussles that are going to the wire

England may already be on the next leg of their relentless international schedule but domestic cricket is about to unlace its boots and toss its collective kit into the back of the garage for another winter, figuratively speaking at any rate.

The matches beginning today mark the last round of the County Championship, with the closing exchanges in the NatWest Pro40 scheduled for Sunday.

The biggest prizes in the Championship have been settled, with Durham already crowned as First Division champions for the second year running, and Kent well clear at the top of the Second.

There is still much at stake for other counties, however. These are the issues still to be decided.

First Division runners-up

The title – along with £500,000 in prize money – already belongs to Durham for the second year running but a three-way race for second place adds extra excitement to the final round of matches, particularly with £225,000 up for grabs for runners-up spot compared with only £40,000 last season. Somerset (182 points) are in pole position to claim the prize but have completed their programme and only if Nottinghamshire (173) and Warwickshire (171) both lose can they be sure of staying there. Warwickshire will finish second if they pick up at least 12 points against Lancashire at Old Trafford and three points more than Nottinghamshire take against relegation favourites Sussex at Trent Bridge.

First Division relegation

Worcestershire's relegation was confirmed two weeks ago and Sussex, beaten by Yorkshire at Hove last week, need help from elsewhere to survive. Even if somehow they can register a maximum-points victory over Nottinghamshire they would still go down if Lancashire can secure eight points. Hampshire will be safe with a draw at Headingley, where Yorkshire need only six points.

Second Division promotion

Kent are already confirmed as Second Division champions and Essex gave themselves a good chance of accompanying them on a return to the top flight by beating Northamptonshire last week. The Wantage Road side remain just three points behind in third place, however, and Essex will need 20 points when they visit Derbyshire to be certain that Northamptonshire do not slip past them by beating wooden-spoon contenders Leicestershire. Glamorgan and Derbyshire are still not out of contention, although their prospects are realistically remote.

Pro40 title

Sussex, back-to-back champions in 2006 and 2007, may have suffered a dramatic demise in four-day cricket since former captain Chris Adams left to become Surrey's manager during last winter, but they could finish with a one-day cricket "double". Sussex, Twenty20 Cup winners and Friends Provident Trophy finalists, lead the First Division by a point going into Sunday's final matches, although they still need to win at third-placed Worcestershire if Somerset, who take on Durham at home, are not to avenge their defeat in the Twenty20 final, by pipping them for the title. This being the last year of the competition, whoever wins keeps the trophy.

Pro40 Division Two title

Middlesex lead Division Two but have completed their programme, which means that a win for Warwickshire against Lancashire at Old Trafford would take the title to the West Midlands.

Leading run-scorer

Marcus Trescothick's 1,817 first-class runs have made the 2009 season the most productive yet for the former England opener, although with Somerset's programme finished he cannot be sure of finishing the nation's top accumulator. Durham's Michael di Venuto (1,541) is in prolific form and posting a couple of big scores against Worcestershire at New Road is certainly not beyond him.

Leading wicket-taker

Graham Onions has been top of the pile for much of the season but his selection for England's Champions Trophy squad means the mantle of leading first-class wicket-taker is likely to be snatched in the last round. Onions has 69 – the same tally as Essex leg-spinner Danish Kaneria. Kent's James Tredwell (66), Steve Kirby of Gloucestershire (62) and Onions's Durham teammate Steve Harmison (62) are also contenders.

Top wicketkeeper

Champions Durham also boast the country's leading wicket-keeper in Phil Mustard, with 67 dismissals, but rival James Foster goes into the final round of matches only two behind on 65. Somerset's 21-year-old Craig Kieswetter has had a remarkable season with bat and gloves, combining 48 dismissals with 1,242 runs, and would win most votes for best wicket-keeper-batsman, although former England gloveman Geraint Jones has clocked up 1,301 runs for Kent.

1,817 runs

Number of first-class runs Marcus Trescothick has scored for Somerset this season, making him the country's top scorer going into the final round of matches.

The Final Countdown: County standings

Division One

P/W/L/D/Ba/Bo/Ded/Pts

Durham 15/8/0/7/44/45/1.0/228.00

Somerset 16/3/1/12/50/43/1.0/182.00

Notts 15/3/2/10/53/38/0.0/173.00

Warwicks/15/3/2/10/54/35/0.0/171.00

Hants 15/3/3/9/46/37/3.0/158.00

Yorks 15/2/2/11/43/41/0.0/156.00

Lancs 15/3/2/10/31/41/0.0/154.00

Sussex 15/2/5/8/44/36/1.0/139.00

Worcs 15/0/10/5/26/39/0.0/85.00

Division Two

P/W/L/D/Ba/Bo/Ded/Pts

Kent 15/8/2/5/41/42/0.0/215.00

Essex 15/5/3/7/36/41/1.0/174.00

Northants 15/5/4/6/35/42/0.0/171.00

Derbyshire 15/2/2/11/50/42/0.0/164.00

Glamorgan 15/2/2/11/51/41/0.0/164.00

Gloucs 15/5/6/4/34/43/0.0/163.00

Middlesex 16/2/7/7/43/41/0.01/40.00

Surrey 15/1/4/10/49/35/0.0/138.00

Leics 15/2/2/11/30/33/0.0/135.00

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'I felt like that was the lowest I’d ever felt'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Sport
Tito Vilanova passed away aged just 45
footballThe club's former manager died in April, less than a year after he stood down
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch
artAnd it's even for a good cause
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Life and Style
techCriminals are targeting an e-reader security flaw
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
newsBut just how much does a 122-carat coloured diamond go for these days?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week