Cricket Es­sex edg­ing ever nearer to ti­tle as San­gakkara signs off in style

The Guardian - Sport - - Boxing - County Cham­pi­onship Will Macpher­son The Oval

We now know this much: if Es­sex beat War­wick­shire and Lan­cashire fail to beat Som­er­set, Es­sex – af­ter 25 years, and hav­ing been pro­moted last year – will be the county cham­pi­ons, and with two games to spare. Both out­comes are likely, and would have ram­i­fi­ca­tions at the foot of Di­vi­sion One, too: Som­er­set would take their great­est step yet to a mem­o­rable es­cape, and ren­der War­wick­shire’s drawn-out rel­e­ga­tion in­evitable.

The ma­jor move­ment took place at Taun­ton, where the es­timable Jack Leach took five for 47 as skit­tled for 133, and en­forced the fol­low-on with a lead of 202. Lan­cashire’s open­ers, Alex Davies and Haseeb Hameed, ne­go­ti­ated 12 overs to reach stumps 174 be­hind.

This took Leach to 103 Cham­pi­onship wick­ets in the last two sea­sons, and this was his third five-wicket haul of the sum­mer, a mighty come­back from a painful win­ter that brought a re­mod­elled ac­tion. His art, left-arm fin­ger spin, is un­fash­ion­able, and so, it seems, is he. But he is might­ily ef­fec­tive.

Af­ter Craig Over­ton and Peter Trego got rid of the open­ers (Hameed was bounced out for four off 56 balls), Leach picked up the prized wick­ets of Liam Liv­ing­stone and Shiv Chan­der­paul, then ran through the tail. He and the 20-year-old Dom Bess – who have 85 wick­ets in nine Cham­pi­onship matches in tan­dem – hold the key to Som­er­set’s snow­balling sur­vival hopes.

charged serenely on against

build­ing a po­si­tion in which they were able to de­clare nine down, 168 in front. War­wick­shire’s open­ers sur­vived two overs to stumps.

Varun Cho­pra, back at Edg­bas­ton, made 98, while Dan Lawrence scored a stylish 78 – full of leg­side flicks – and James Fos­ter con­trib­uted a punchy

68 to take them from 271 for six to

Sur­rey’s Ku­mar San­gakkara struck 164 at The Oval, the sev­enth Cham­pi­onship cen­tury of his farewell sea­son

the dec­la­ra­tion. Tom West­ley was ear­lier dis­missed for 28 as Chris Woakes got one to leave him; that pair’s Eng­land team­mate Alas­tair Cook will be avail­able for the last matches against Hamp­shire and York­shire. He will hope it is a mere lap of hon­our.

At The Oval, the pitch is bulging with runs and Ku­mar San­gakkara, a fort­night from the end of his first-class ca­reer, was not about to miss out. He scored his sev­enth Cham­pi­onship cen­tury of a golden farewell sum­mer, a gor­geous 164 against which leaves him with 1,250 Cham­pi­onship runs, 291 more than the near­est mor­tal in Di­vi­sion One, Mark Stone­man. San­gakkara has missed four matches, yet never misses out against York­shire: this sea­son he has a ton against them with a red, white and pink ball.

This was vin­tage San­gakkara. When York­shire posted two short cov­ers barely five yards apart, the ball was threaded be­tween them. He skipped down and stroked straight sixes, off seam and spin. We should all beg him to stay on but his fel­low cen­tu­rion Ben Foakes, with whom he shared 258, says his mind is made up: “He’s well and truly done,” said the wick­et­keeper. “All day out in the field, he just tells you how tired he is.”

When he fell, hook­ing Jack Brooks (who plugged away for five for 113), Foakes ploughed on for his first cen­tury of a stel­lar sum­mer; he was stylish and pa­tient, largely op­er­at­ing in San­gakkara’s slip­stream, un­til Brooks got him too.

Sur­rey were dis­missed for 592, but York­shire found bat­ting just as sim­ple. This is the first time since May 2012 that nei­ther Adam Lyth (ab­sent for the birth of his first child) nor Alex Lees (at No3) has opened for them, but Tom KohlerCad­more and Shaun Marsh im­pressed. Kohler-Cad­more even­tu­ally be­came the debu­tant Fred­die van den Bergh’s maiden Cham­pi­onship wicket, but not be­fore mak­ing his first Cham­pi­onship fifty for York­shire, while Marsh – who is of in­ter­est to both th­ese coun­ties for next sea­son – au­di­tioned flu­ently with 77, as the vis­it­ing side reached stumps on 171 for one.

Lan­cashire Es­sex wick­shire, War- Som­er­set Sur­rey’s York­shire,

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