A potentially decisive weekend in both top divisions with important wins for Kent and Lancashire at the top of their respective leagues, defeat for Essex at the bottom of Division 1 and a first win for Durham at the bottom of Division 2.
Kent 299/3 beat Sussex 217 all out by 82 runs
Notts 194/6 beat Middlesex 192 all out by 2 runs
Warwickshire 360/6 beat Essex 49 all out by 311 runs
Yorkshire 251/9 beat Berkshire 202 all out by 49 runs
Sussex will be ruing inviting Kent, with a top four batting line-up who all play for England, to come and play them on one of the best batting tracks in England at Arundel Castle. A good crowd of a couple of hundred saw Kent rack up 299/3 with Charlotte Edwards (151) and Tammy Beaumont (107) enjoying an opening partnership of 253. Sussex missed playing, but injured, Sarah Taylor behind the stumps (both openers were dropped); playing but injured Geogia Elwiss's bowling and Arran Brindle, absent for family reasons. In reply Sussex were going well after the early loss of Georgia Adams (4), with Elwiss (92) and Taylor (56) taking the score to 140/1 in the 26th over, before Taylor clipped a Megan Belt full-toss straight to Lydia Greenway at midwicket. A great deal now rested on Elwiss with Sussex fielding a very young middle order line-up. She and Izzy Collis (19) took the score to 187 at drinks at 34 overs. But first ball after drinks Laura Marsh claimed the vital wicket of Elwiss, given out lbw, and from there the Sussex innings subsided to 217 all out. New Zealand import Erin Birmingham claimed 4/28.
Notts just managed to cling on to beat Middlesex in a thriller at Welbeck CC. Notts had been restricted to 194/6 in their 50 overs with Jenny Gunn (57) and Danni Wyatt (49) again in the runs. Danni Warren (2/18) was the pick of the bowlers. In response Middlesex lost opener Helen Stolle to the second ball of the innings, but thereafter the top order accumulated runs nicely - Catherine Dalton (48), Tash Miles (42) and Emma Inglis (41) - and Middlesex seemed to be cruising to victory. But four wickets from Wyatt (4/41) saw Middlesex needing 12 from the last three overs with two wickets in hand. A run out left them needing six from the last and Amy Gauvrit won it for Notts with a wicket from the penultimate ball.
Yorkshire picked up their first win of the season against a Berkshire team that are slipping down the league table after successive defeats. Yorkshire owed their 253/9 to a magnificent 128 from opener Lauren Winfield. Fellow opener Jess Watson (33) and Kathryn Doherty (22) were the only other major contributors, in an innings which saw four Yorkshire players run out. Alice MacLeod (76) led the Berkshire reply, but Aimee Simms (3/42) claimed three crucial middle order wickets, including MacLeod's, which took the wind out of Berkshire's sails. They ended well short on 207/9.
Warwickshire too picked up their first win of their 2014 campaign against an Essex team that seem destined to play in Division 2 next year. Amy Jones hit an 80 ball 124, as Warwickshire amassed 360/6 in their 50 overs. Marie Kelly (63) and Minahil Zahoor (61) also enjoyed themselves. A demoralised Essex were bowled out for 49 in less then 20 overs with Georgia Hennessy (3/13) and Laura Crofts (3/17) the chief beneficiaries.
Durham beat Cheshire
Lancashire 230/5 beat Devon 227/7 by 5 wickets
Staffs 188/3 beat Worcestershire 187 all out by 7 wickets
Somerset 126/5 beat Wales 122 all out by 5 wickets
Lancashire were indebted to England's Kate Cross, who set up their victory over title challengers Devon not only with a three wicket haul, but then a vital 63 not out. Devon had put 227/7 on the board with in-form Rosalie Fairbairn (96*) and Linton Hannah (50) the major contributors. Cross claimed 3/40 and Jasmine Titmuss 2/29. Lancs might have wavered when they lost their third wicket at 102, but Cross came in to join Natalie Brown, who hit an equally important 66, before she became one of Jodie Dibble's three victims (3/39). But by this time the Lancs score had moved on to 194/4 and Cross guided her team home, and to the top of the league, with three overs to spare.
Staffs completed a comfortable victory over Worcestershire after bowling them out for 187 in the last of their 50 overs. New Zealander Kate Broadmore produced season best figures of 6/31 as only Sarvenaz Razavi (58) and Lauren Rowles (50) put up any great resistance for Worcestershire. Charlotte Whyle (106*) produced her best batting of the season as Staffs romped home with more than six overs to spare.
Somerset chased down Wales rather meager total of 122 all out, but only after having been a nervous 74/4 at one stage. Loraine Szcezepanski took 3/17 with only Gwenan Davies (29) and Megan Burton (20) getting out of the teens for Wales. Fran Wilson (45) anchored the Somerset reply before being run out trying to run the winning run.
Durham won what was a "must-win" game for them against Cheshire. Durham could only put 132 on the board with four batsmen getting into the 20s. Sophie Ecclestone took 4/31 and Cheshire probably felt confident they could send Durham crashing to 6th defeat, but Elysa Hubbard (4/12) and her fellow bowlers for Durham had other ideas. At 98/8 Durham must have felt confident of a victory, but that became 125/8, befoe Hailey Falla claimed her only, but the vital 9th wicket of Gaby McKeever (17), who looked like she was going to steal the game from under Durham's noses. Lynn McDonnell then wrapped up the Cheshire innings without any further runs scored. Durham remain bottom of the league, but are in touch with Worcestershire and Cheshire just above them.
scorecards are available here
up-to-date league tables are here