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


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


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


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
food + drink
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
UK Border Control
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn