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Warwickshire spinner extends lead after Division One clash.
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The current top two in the PCA’s Overall Most Valuable Player Rankings went head-to-head at Edgbaston this week, as Simon Harmer’s Essex batted long on the final day to secure a draw and stay in the hunt for a second Specsavers County Championship title in three seasons.
Harmer and Warwickshire skipper Jeetan Patel, also the two leading wicket-takers in this year’s competition, didn’t disappoint, each claiming six opposition scalps in the first innings.
It was Patel who eventually got the better of the match, though, and not just because he removed Harmer for a second ball duck in the first innings.
Where Harmer’s wickets came at 23.8 runs apiece, Patel’s came at a miserly 12.2. The Kiwi also struck a useful 51 not out, occupying the crease first with Matt Lamb, who made a sensational maiden century (ending on 173), and then George Garrett for the last wicket.
Patel’s side consequently all but confirmed Division One survival, and the captain became the first player this year to pass the 500 MVP point mark. He is now 23 points ahead of Harmer in the race to pick up the £10,000 prize.
The Division One title seems destined to be heading to either Chelmsford or Taunton come 26 September. Whilst Essex faltered at Edgbaston, Somerset pressed full steam ahead with a crushing win on their home ground.
With Craig Overton on England duty and usual suspect Lewis Gregory – who averages more MVP points-per-game than any other player this season – having a relatively quiet game, seamer Josh Davey stepped up to the plate to win the match for his side in the final innings. Davey, who was named Player of the Match after this year’s Royal London One-Day Cup final, performed when his side needed it most, returning figures of 5-24.
As a result, Somerset edge ahead at the summit of Division One, moving eight points clear of Essex with two games to play.
Whilst everything is to play for in the top tier, we already know one of the sides that will be promoted from Division Two. Lancashire have returned at the first time of asking following an easy victory over Derbyshire – the Red Rose’s seventh of the season.
Richard Gleeson laid the platform with his 5-64, helping to remove the away side for 244. Youngster Josh Bohannon then took the game away from Derbyshire as he joined the aforementioned Lamb in making a maiden first-class century – the two remarkably finished on 174 and 173 on the same day’s play.
With Bohannon a shoo-in for the Player of the Match award, finishing with 29.51 MVP points, it was just left to Tom Bailey, Glenn Maxwell and Matt Parkinson to take three wickets each and secure Lancashire’s return to the top tier.
Below Lancashire, everything is to play for with the Division Two run-in looking like one of the most exciting in years.
A Rob Keogh-inspired Northamptonshire claimed victory at Leicester to go second, thanks in no small part to the Player of the Match’s 132 from 182 balls in the first innings.
Ben Raine did the damage for Durham in a low-scoring thriller at Lord’s. His 5-26 helped to remove the home side for just 143, whilst also helping the 27-year-old to 27.68 MVP points and 34th position in the Overall MVP.
With the second and fourth-placed teams both winning, fifth overcame third as David Wiese’s all-round talents helped Sussex to a win at Gloucestershire. Wiese is usually known for his limited overs prowess, which has helped him to 16th in the Overall MVP, but here he excelled in the longer format to keep his side in the promotion race.
There’s no change at the summit of the format-specific Championship MVP, where Simon Harmer is 27 points clear of Patel, although the gap is closing.
Gregory is third whilst Surrey’s Rikki Clarke has made a late surge to fourth. A remarkable game at Hampshire saw the experienced all-rounder claim 5-21 in the first innings, strike 49 runs with the bat, all whilst moving past 500 first-class wickets and 11,000 first-class runs in the process.
He couldn’t turn around his side’s indifferent form, however, as Surrey slipped to a fifth defeat of the season by 272 runs.
View the PCA’s MVP Rankings here.
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