Friday, 18 April 2014, 10:39am
Joyce leads Sussex to the top
While champions Durham came within one wicket of kickstarting the defence of their title with success at the first attempt away to promoted Northamptonshire, yet in the end had to settle for the tensest of stalemates, Sussex had things all wrapped up before lunch.
As the second round of this summer's matches concluded, elsewhere there was a heartening century for England's Ashes opener Michael Carberry to help Hampshire get the better of Gloucestershire in Division Two.
But in Birmingham Joyce was the toast of Sussex, leading from the front to deliver his team's first victory at the home of the Bears in more than 30 years.
The Irishman finished unbeaten on 151 as Sussex passed 330 to complete their highest chase since the turn of the millennium - with seven wickets to spare.
Joyce, who hit 18 fours from 237 balls, added a third-wicket stand of 94 with Rory Hamilton-Brown (54) to the 135 he and fellow opener Luke Wells shared on Tuesday - and Sussex therefore top the table on 43 points.
At Wantage Road, Durham had nine overs at Northants' last pair after Scott Borthwick took the eighth and ninth wickets in successive deliveries.
But Rob Newton, who kept out 137 balls for his unbeaten 48, and number 11 Azharullah would not yield against Graham Onions (three for 48) et al.
Durham had been bowled out for 244 in their second innings, Michael Richardson adding only six to his overnight 53 and veteran off-spinner James Middlebrook taking five for 62.
Set 319 to win, Northants dug in once victory was beyond them and closed on 205 for nine.
At Lord's, Middlesex made up for last week's defeat away to Sussex by romping to a 10-wicket success against Nottinghamshire.
Tim Murtagh took five for 61 and Steven Finn four for 82, to finish with nine wickets in the match, as the visitors were bowled out for 224.
Then prospective new England opener Sam Robson took his match aggregate past 200 runs as he and his fellow Australian Chris Rogers (63no) knocked off the 112 required in only 18.2 overs.
Somerset's match at home to Yorkshire finished in a predictable, high-scoring draw.
Craig Meschede (59no) became the sixth Somerset batsman to pass 50 in a first-innings total of 553 all out at Taunton.
Yorkshire, for whom Liam Plunkett took four wickets, therefore needed to bat out the day from 103 behind.
They did so, thanks to half-centuries from opener Adam Lyth (54) and Kane Williamson (57no), hands shaken on 193 for four declared at 5pm.
In Division Two, Kent subsided to a 125-run defeat away to Worcestershire.
The visitors began the final day needing another 215 runs, with seven wickets intact, but by lunch the Pears had bowled Kent out for 140.
Seamers Gareth Andrew (four for 43), Jack Shantry and Charlie Morris shared the wickets.
Hampshire, by contrast, always looked on course for a successful run chase down the M5 at Bristol.
Gloucestershire lost their final wicket on Wednesday morning, Hamish Marshall for a painstaking 94 out of 332 all out.
Hampshire therefore needed 215 to win, and Carberry (100no) made no mistake - completing his 30th first-class century and sealing the match with successive sixes off the occasional bowling of Chris Dent.
He hit another maximum and 16 fours too, reminding the Test and one-day international selectors he is still available to them after his maiden tour of Australia.
First-innings centurion James Vince (58no) provided the impetus to get the job done with a session to spare in an unbroken century stand for the third wicket with Carberry.
At Chelmsford, Derbyshire's Tim Groenewald took eight wickets in the match and added a half-century yet still finished on the losing side.
Ultimately, England captain Alastair Cook's second-innings 181 proved decisive as Essex won by 53 runs.
Groenewald (52) and David Wainwright refused to go quietly on the final morning, even after Graham Napier had at last prised out Shivnarine Chanderpaul (52).
But Derbyshire were still all out for 312 in pursuit of 366 as Napier and Tymal Mills shared six wickets.
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Ed Joyce's Sussex are the early leaders in LV= County Championship Division One