• County Championship round-up

Five-star Meaker presses England claims

May 18, 2012
Stuart Meaker enjoyed a prolific day at The Oval © PA Photos

Stuart Meaker enhanced his England credentials by taking five for 42 as Surrey fought back against Somerset on day three of their County Championship Division One clash at The Oval.

Graham Thorpe, England's lead batting coach, was among those watching as an absorbing contest changed direction several times before bad light ended the action almost an hour early.

Somerset, with a lead of 278 and three wickets in hand, find themselves in the better position but all outcomes remain possible.

Lancashire's out-of-form batsmen followed the first-innings example of Ashwell Prince to hold up Warwickshire's push for victory on the third day at Edgbaston. Prince's unbeaten 87 failed to save Lancashire from being made to follow on 360 runs in arrears after they were dismissed for 197 in mid-afternoon.

But Paul Horton and Karl Brown applied themselves more diligently second time around with a second-wicket stand of 89 which helped Lancashire to 122 for three when bad light halted play nine overs early and took the game into a fourth day.

Chris Nash and Ed Joyce turned the clock back 12 months with an unbroken stand of 143 before the weather halted a Sussex charge against Worcestershire at New Road. Their first century partnership in a year stretched their team's lead to a commanding 199 but bad light and light rain wiped out the final session and put declaration plans on hold until the last day.

Seventeen years since making his first-class debut for Yorkshire, Anthony McGrath scored a superb century to lead his side's fightback on day three of Division Two match against Hampshire at Headingley.

The 36-year-old, who has slipped down the batting order to number six and is struggling to hold his place in the side, brought all his experience to bear in making an unbeaten 106 off 189 balls with 14 fours and a six to help Yorkshire declare on 399 for nine.

But for McGrath's tenacious contribution, Yorkshire would have been in serious trouble because at 237 for seven they still required a further 41 runs to avoid the follow-on in reply to their opponents' 427. Hampshire, having seen a big advantage slip away, were then left with 10 overs in which to bat at the end of the day and they lost Liam Dawson for eight before bad light ended play at 21 for one with 2.4 overs still remaining.

Derbyshire's impressive start to the season continued as they crushed Glamorgan by eight wickets with a day to spare at Derby.

Glamorgan's fragile batting failed again with only Will Bragg offering any resistance with 78 as they collapsed to 188 all out in their second innings against the spin of David Wainwright, who took five for 51, and Wes Durston's three for 43.

That left Derbyshire needing only 70 and they took less than 13 overs to seal a 23-point victory which leaves them on top of Division Two and Glamorgan rooted to the bottom.

Essex teenager Ben Foakes narrowly missed out on a century as the match against Leicestershire was left finely balanced at the end of the third day at Grace Road. Foakes, 19, made an eye-catching 93 on his Championship debut to help Essex to a total of 409 and a first-innings lead of 37.

But with Ramnaresh Sarwan making his second half-century of the match, Leicestershire closed on 148 for three to lead by 111 runs going into the final day. Sarwan was still there on 61.

Kent edged towards safety against Northamptonshire at Canterbury as they closed a rain-affected day three on 280 for six.

With the floodlights on and the square swathed in sheets and pitch covers, match umpires Nigel Cowley and Nick Cook had no choice but to call proceedings off at 6pm, with Kent still 138 behind their opponents' first-inning total of 418. Crucially however, they managed to inch past the follow-on figure of 269 to keep themselves on course for their fifth draw in six.

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