DERBYSHIRE pipped Yorkshire to the Division Two title after sealing a six-wicket win over Hampshire on the final day of the LV= County Championship season today.
Although Yorkshire comfortably beat Essex earlier in the day to put the pressure on their title rivals, Derbyshire responded with a victory of their own that ensures them of top spot.
Derbyshire, who secured top-flight cricket for the first time since 2000 yesterday, took the final four Hampshire wickets this morning for the addition of 56 runs as they were set a victory target of 196.
The loss of both Derbyshire openers Paul Borrington (21) and Wayne Madsen (24) with the total on 45 proved nothing more serious than a minor setback as Australia Test batsman Usman Khawaja guided his side home with an unbeaten 72.
Ross Whiteley, who turned 24 yesterday, added some late fireworks to help seal the title in style as he clubbed five sixes - including the winning runs - to finish unbeaten on 38 off just 30 balls.
The victory saw Derbyshire finish level on 194 points with Yorkshire but above their rivals due to having won more matches.
Yorkshire, who were also assured of promotion yesterday, had done all they could to take the title by thrashing Essex by 239 runs at Chelmsford.
Starting the day on 28 for two in pursuit of a victory target of 388, Essex were bowled out for 148 with Azeem Rafiq claiming five for 50 and Steven Patterson four for 34.
Owais Shah scored 71 not out for Essex but none of his team-mates were able to get past 20 as Yorkshire stormed to victory.
Leicestershire consigned Gloucestershire to a bottom-placed finish in Division Two after surviving a huge late scare to beat the west country outfit by two wickets at Grace Road.
Chasing a victory target of 236, Leicestershire were coasting at 205 for three but then lost five wickets for 13 runs as Gloucestershire fought back.
But Wayne White held his nerve to hit the winning boundary off Will Gidman after Josh Cobb had earlier smashed a blistering 65 off 51 balls and Ned Eckersley made 63.
It was Leicestershire’s third win of the season and the 21 points lifted them to seventh in the table, with Gloucestershire replacing them at the foot.
The final two Division One games both finished in draws today, with champions Warwickshire staving off defeat against Nottinghamshire and Lancashire’s rain-ruined match with Surrey inevitably falling to produce a winner.
Set an unlikely 421 to win after Nottinghamshire declared on 469 for eight, Warwickshire looked to be headed for defeat as they slipped to 135 for five and then 235 for eight.
However, Keith Barker (44 not out) and Chris Wright (19no) kept Nottinghamshire at bay with an unbroken 55-run stand to take their side up to 290 for eight at the close.
Notts all-rounder Paul Franks, having scored an unbeaten 86 in his side’s second innings, took four for 47 while his team-mate Luke Fletcher also enjoyed a fine day with bat and ball as he added three wickets to his 42 not out earlier today.
For Warwickshire, Chris Woakes again showed his prowess with the bat with 80 while Ian Westwood (46) and Ian Blackwell (44) also contributed.
After the first two days were washed out at Liverpool it was no surprise to see the Lancashire-Surrey match finish in low-key fashion, but there was still time for home all-rounder Luke Procter to shine.
He took first seven-wicket haul of his career to help dismiss Surrey for 367, the 24-year-old finishing with figures of seven for 71, before Lancashire made 142 for two declared in reply, with opener Tom Smith scoring 83.