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Kent and Lancashire maintained their unbeaten status and their vice-like grip at the top of Divisions 1 and 2 respectively, with just a couple of matches to go. Sussex were unexpectedly beaten by Surrey in Div 1 and Devon and Somerset seem to be vying for the play-off spot in Div 2 behind Lancs.
Division 1 - Results
Berkshire 174/5 v Middlesex 173/10 - Berks won by 5 wickets
Essex 183/8 v Yorkshire 184/9 - Yorkshire won by 1 wicket
Surrey 102/5 v Sussex 101/10 - Surrey won by 5 wickets
Kent 143/1 v Notts 142/9 - Kent won by 9 wickets
Kent have one hand very firmly on the 2014 Women's County Championship trophy after another comprehensive win, this time over rivals Notts. Notts were invited to bat first by Kent and had made steady progress to 119/3, but they had lost both Danni Wyatt (0) and Jenny Gunn (10), the mainstays of the Notts' batting this season. Opener Olivia Thornton (56) battled hard, but when she was out with the score at 119 the Notts' innings collapsed to 142 all out. Charlotte Pape lapped up 4/24 for Kent. It was never going to be enough, although there was a brief glimmer of hope when Megan Schutt had Charlotte Edwards caught behind for 11 with the score at 31/1, but it was to be Notts' only success as the in-form Tammy Beaumont hit an unbeaten 92 to steer Kent to another win with full bonus points. They have Berkshire and Surrey to play, plus the cancelled Essex game.
Surrey inflicted defeat on a lack-lustre Sussex side on the rebound from defeat to Kent last week. It was a low-calibre game on a low-calibre wicket at a low-calibre ground with low-calibre umpires. Rain had got under the covers on a poor wicket and the start was delayed by 2 hours. The umpires, who clearly had other things they needed to do that day, decided this warranted reducing the match to 35 overs per team, despite the fact that the regulations indicated that a 45 over game should have been played. Surrey, perhaps a little short on bowlers, were very happy to have a 35 over game. As it was Sussex failed to last 34 overs as they were bowled out for 101 with Alexia Walker top-scoring with 21. It was a tricky track but it was not that bad. Veteran Sarah Clarke took 3/9. Surrey were never really under any great run pressure, although the wicket of Nat Sciver (18) opened up a brief window for Sussex, but Susie Rowe (27) manufactured a few shots to lead her side to victory.
Middlesex will be cursing the fact that Berkshire's Heather Knight decided to play her best knock of the season so far against them, effectively taking them to a significant second victory of the season and ease their relegation play-off worries a little. Middlesex batted first, but did not capitalise on a decent start by Tash Miles (41) and Helen Stolle (29), which took them to 83 without loss. After they both fell it was a regular procession of batsmen which left Middlesex on 173 all out in exactly 50 overs. Fi Morris took 3/17. In reply Heather Knight made a tentative start as she lost Rogers, MacLeod and Hall in quick succession to leave Berkshire in a hole at 36/3, but she and Amanda Potgeiter (38), steadily rebuilt the innings. Potgeiter fell with the score at 120, but Knight continued and with the generous assistance of 35 wides, saw her side home with more than six overs to spare.
Essex produced a much better performance at Garron Park against Yorkshire, but it was not quite enough to pull off the win. Having elected to bat Essex put 183/8 on the board thanks to several double figure contributions, including 40 from Maddy Villiers and 35 from Hannah Phelps. Dani Hazell claimed 3/11 off her 10 overs. In reply Yorkshire had good early order contributions from Jess Watson (41) and Dani Hazell (23), but when they went they left it to Kathryn Doherty (55*) to try and steer the holed Yorkshire ship home. Numbers 5-11 contributed only 27 runs between them, but Aimee Simms did survive for 30 balls for her 8, allowing Doherty to accumulate enough runs to secure victory with the last two at the crease. Essex have Middlesex (who have also won only one game this season) and Kent left to play, and Warwickshire, who are just above them in the table, have Yorkshire and Berkshire.
Division 2 - Results
Worcestershire 151/6 v Ireland 256/6 - Ireland won by 105 runs
Cheshire 172/9 v Devon 174/6 - Devon won by 4 wickets
Somerset 228/2 v Staffordshire 147/10 - Somerset won by 81 runs
Lancashire 167/8 v Wales 104/10 - Lancs won by 63 runs
Lancashire were probably a little disappointed to have been kept down to 167/8 in their 50 overs against Wales, but ultimately it proved to be plenty. The Lancs' innings was built around three decent scores - Emma Lamb (36), Kate Cross (35), and Laura Marshall (29) with some decent late-order support. The Welsh bowlers shared the wickets around amongst themselves. Having reached 53/1 the Welsh innings imploded as Nalisha Patel 4/25 and Hannah Jones 3/17 skittled Wales out for 104. Lancs just have Staffs left to play on the last day of the regular season (27th July) and barring a catastrophe should finish the season as champions.
Devon kept up their chances of Div 1 cricket next year (assuming the league format stays as it is, which is apparently not a given) with a comfortable win over Cheshire. Cheshire had managed to put 172/9 on the board aided by 35 wides bowled by Devon and 43 from opener Jennifer Dunn. Rebecca Donahue claimed 3/28 for Devon. Devon were cruising in reply at 141/2 thanks to Hazelle Garton (55) and Alli Kelly (51), but 141/2 became 151/6, as Garton and Kelly fell with Dibble and Hannah, but O'Keefe and Jones saw Devon over the line. Devon have Ireland, Durham and Wales to play.
Somerset won a key match against fellow promotion hopefuls Staffs, to keep the pressure up on Devon just above them in the league. Somerset put 228/2 on the board with all of the top four contributing - Wilson (71), Luff (69), Le Marchand (38), and Anya Shrubsole (30). It was too much for Staffs who never really recovered from a poor start losing three wickets for 31 runs. Kate Broadmore (35) and Francesca James (26) led a decent middle-order effort, but when four wickets fell with the score on 97 the game was up, despite a dogged 27 not out from number 9 Kathryn Whyle. She dragged the game into the 49th over before she lost her final partner with the score on 147.
Ireland moved above Staffs with a comprehensive win over Worcestershire. Ireland were inserted by their hosts and all the batsmen got into double figures, with Cecilia Joyce (62) and Laura Delany (44) the chief run scorers. In reply opener Naomi Heywood batted the entire innings for 70*, with Clare Boycott also contributing 41, but Worcestershire ended up 105 runs adrift with four wickets still in hand, and, with just one win to their credit, are hovering just above Durham at the bottom of the division.