Derbyshire 474 & 240-4 dec Essex 356-9 dec & 359-5 (Essex win by five wickets)
By Jon Culley at the County Ground
Ryan ten Doeschate fired Essex back into Division One of the County Championship with an unbeaten 108 off only 59 balls as Mark Pettini's team beat Derbyshire with five overs to spare.
The ease with which they secured promotion as Division Two runners-up will raise eyebrows, if not hackles, in Northamptonshire. They thought they had all but secured second place, behind Kent, after thrashing Leicestershire by an innings on Friday.
Derbyshire's declaration at 240 for 4, just before lunch and with 65 overs left in the day, left Essex needing to score five and a half runs per over. It could have been a stiff challenge but they were never off the pace. Alastair Cook drove to cover to be out for 25 in the 11th over but Essex moved on to 114 before Tom Westley cut Graham Wagg – bowling left-arm spin – to Steffan Jones at backward point.
John Maunders made 55 before he was caught at long on but at 149 for 3 at tea, Essex had the platform they needed. Greg Smith, bowling off spin, accounted for Matt Walker and James Foster cheaply early in the last session and at 203 for 5 with 22 overs left the contest was in the balance. Once Pettini had been joined by Ten Doeschate, however, the scoreboard began turning rapidly and Derbyshire were seemingly powerless to stem the flow of runs as the Dutch all-rounder got into his stride. His second 50 runs came off only 33 balls, after which his eighth six, off Smith, took Essex to the brink of victory. Pettini, who finished on 88, completed the job.
Chris Rogers, the Derbyshire captain, admitted that his declaration might "look a bit stupid" in hindsight, but made no apology.
"We could have set them eight or nine an over but we wanted to finish third and we needed time to bowl them out," he said. "We weren't thinking about any other teams. They might have struggled if we had bowled better but all credit to Essex for batting well."
Danish Kaneria took his 75th wicket of the season – from only 11 matches – after Derbyshire resumed on 103 for 3 but Essex soon gave up trying to bowl the home side out, Pettini and Cook, both part-time bowlers, sending down 13 inviting overs in order to encourage a declaration. Garry Park and John Sadler helped themselves to 78 runs, Park completing his second hundred of the season and passing 1,000 first-class runs in the process.
Durham, who wrapped up the Division One title two weeks ago, completed the season unbeaten and finished with the largest winning margin since the Championship was split into two divisions. An injury to Steve Harmison probably cost them victory against Worcestershire, however, with the England fast bowler missing at New Road because of a sore knee. Liam Plunkett took four wickets to give him 60 for the season.
Samit Patel took a career-best 6 for 84 as Nottinghamshire beat relegated Sussex at Trent Bridge for a first win in any competition since June and second place, worth £225,000, ahead of Somerset, who picked up £115,000.
Lancashire collected the £35,000 prize for fourth place with a 10- wicket victory over Warwickshire at Old Trafford.