Essex win County Championship: Lancashire defeat at Somerset confirms title
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton (day four):|
|Somerset 335 & 69-3: Parkinson 3-37|
|Lancashire 133 & 269 (f/o): Hameed 62; Leach 4-94|
|Somerset (22 pts) beat Lancashire (3 pts) by seven wickets|
Essex have won the County Championship for the first time since 1992 after closest challengers Lancashire lost to Somerset by seven wickets at Taunton.
Only an unlikely victory would have been enough to keep Lancashire in the title race following Essex's innings win over Warwickshire on Thursday.
Somerset took the final two Lancashire wickets cheaply on day four and chased their target of 68 comfortably.
The defeat leaves Lancashire 56 points behind Essex with two games to play.
The Red Rose county remain second in Division One, while Somerset's second consecutive Championship victory may be enough to lift them out of the relegation zone once the ongoing round of fixtures has been completed.
Lancashire led by only 45 runs overnight with two wickets remaining and Somerset seamer Craig Overton wrapped up their second innings quickly, bowling Kyle Jarvis and then trapping Tom Bailey lbw.
Leg-spinner Matt Parkinson (3-37) took two wickets in two balls during Somerset's chase but the home side knocked off the runs required in just 13.3 overs.
In their first season with Glen Chapple as head coach, it has been a year of progress for Lancashire.
A first Championship title since 2011 has eluded them, although there has been no repeat of last season's narrow escape from relegation.
Somerset director of cricket Matthew Maynard told BBC Radio Somerset:
"The attitude of the team throughout the game was first class. The bowlers did a great job for us, but it showed most in our fielding.
"You expect your younger players to excel in that department but, when the older guys like Tim Groenewald are throwing themselves around to prevent runs, it really means something.
"Craig Overton set the tone for us with the ball in both innings. He would have been a tired lad going out there this morning, but still took two wickets with a brilliant aggressiveness.
"A big shout-out to our two spinners as well. We now go to Surrey in a really positive frame of mind, but with a lot of work still to do."
Lancashire captain Steven Croft told BBC Radio Manchester:
"Massive congratulations to Essex. That's eight games they have won, which is an incredible effort, and they are thoroughly deserving winners of the Championship.
"We had a close game against them at the start of the season and a couple of other matches could have gone our way with a bit of luck.
"But it was a tough task staying close to Essex the way they have been playing and we will take a lot of positives out of the season.
"Now our goal is to finish runners-up. We were written off by many at the beginning of the season, but emerged as title contenders."