Bob Willis Trophy: Somerset beat weather to win West Country derby, plus victories for Surrey & Northants

By Ged ScottBBC Sport
Somerset's four-times capped England paceman Craig Overton has now taken 23 wickets in four Bob Willis Trophy matches at an average of 9.57 each
Somerset's four-times capped England paceman Craig Overton has now taken 23 wickets in four Bob Willis Trophy matches at an average of 9.57 each

The weather forecast hinted that there might not be any cricket on the final day of round four of the Bib Willis Trophy - but thankfully for Somerset, that did not prove to be the case.

While England's Jimmy Anderson was entering the realms of fast bowling folklore in the final Test at Southampton, one of the many hopefuls aiming to fill his shoes, Craig Overton, again shone in county cricket at Taunton.

The Somerset paceman carried on his stunning form in the new red-ball competition named after another famous English quickie.

Storm Francis did do enough damage to write off four of the scheduled eight remaining fixtures - three of them at Arundel, Worcester and Headingley, without any play possible.

But it did not stop Kent claiming a key win in South Group, Central Group bottom club Northants beating Glamorgan and Somerset's Overton finally completing a five-for as they finished off poor Gloucestershire in the West Country derby.

Bowled out for 76 in the first innings, this time it was even less, just 70. After a delayed start, the hosts needed just 15 minutes before Overton struck twice to finish with 5-26 and match figures of 9-51 to wrap up a 314-run win on their now fearsome Taunton home track.

More importantly, it now leaves Somerset in pole position to become one of the two Bob Willis Trophy finalists at Lord's on 23 September.

Of the three North, Central and South Group winners, it is only the best two that will contest the final - and Somerset, on 76 points, will start the final round of fixtures five points better off than their closest rivals among the other seven teams which can still make it.

There will now be a 12-day break, however, before the final round of fixtures as the T20 Blast prepares for its late start in this frustratingly delayed but now extended 2020 season. It will, however, do nothing to lessen the anticipation.

North Group

Derbyshire remain leaders despite being rained off against Durham at Chester-le-Street.

They now have 71 points - five ahead of second-placed Yorkshire, who are the only other team that can win this group when the final round of games commence on Sunday 6 September.

After seeing the Roses Match also end in a washout, the Tykes will now be hoping that neighbours Lancashire can do them a favour by beating Derbyshire in Liverpool.

Yorkshire are at home next against fourth-placed Leicestershire, who hosted the only play possible on the final day in the group.

They managed just 22.5 overs, during which Harry Swindells made an unbeaten half-century, before their home game with Notts was called off as a draw.

Final round (6-9 September): Lancashire v Derbyshire (Aigburth), Notts v Durham, (Trent Bridge), Yorkshire v Leicestershire (Leeds)

Central Group

While Somerset made the main headlines by beating Gloucestershire, the day's other Central Group winners were Northants, who completed a successful run-chase against Glamorgan at Wantage Road.

Resuming on 61-1, Emilio Gay saw it through on 77 not out, sharing a century stand with Charlie Thurston (64) before the hosts got home on 192-4 in the 43rd over.

The win lifted Northants to fourth, three points behind still winless Warwickshire, after their rain-off at New Road, but well off the pace.

Only Somerset (on 76) and Worcestershire (70) can win the group - and their meeting in Worcester on 6 September is the crunch fixture.

Final round (6-9 September): Glamorgan v Warwickshire (Cardiff), Gloucestershire v Northants (Bristol), Worcestershire v Somerset (Worcester)

South Group

Kent fast bowler Matt Milnes took the last of his seven wickets in the match to complete his side's tense 17-run win at The Oval
Kent fast bowler Matt Milnes took the last of his seven wickets in the match to complete his side's tense 17-run win at The Oval

Kent kept their hopes of a Lord's final alive but it took them until almost six o'clock before they finally finished off Surrey.

As long as England's Ben Foakes was still there, Surrey had a chance of a first win but, when Harry Podmore had him strangled down the leg side for 57, Matt Milnes (4-57) finished off the job.

Kent move into second, six points behind Essex, who remain top of South Group on 70 points, going into their final game with third-placed Middlesex, who are 11 points behind on 59.

Despite winning their first three games, 2019 county champions Essex have fewer points than the leaders in the other two sections - and a haul of just five batting bonus points may yet count against them - especially the one that got away when they lunched at 249-3 on day three at Arundel, never to take the field again.

However, should they beat Middlesex and outscore whatever Derbyshire achieve against Lancashire that should be enough for a place in the final.

If Essex fail to win, Kent (64) and Hampshire (54), who play each other, could also finish as group winners. However, if any team other than Essex do so, they may need the Central or North Group winners to either lose or be involved in a low-scoring draw to reach Lord's.

Final round (6-9 September): Essex v Middlesex (Chelmsford), Kent v Hampshire (Canterbury), Surrey v Sussex (The Oval)

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