Good morning from Headingley, where the sun is shining once again ahead of day four between Yorkshire and Somerset.
The sun is definitely shining on Somerset at present, with the dark clouds descending on a Yorkshire side who are in the thick of a relegation battle.
The hosts, set an unlikely target of 419 – it would be their record chase if they got there – fell to 4-2 late last night before adding a boundary to that total. If defeat befalls Yorkshire, as expected, it would be their second loss on the spin after going down to fellow strugglers Worcestershire at Scarborough last week. Those two sides would go into the final four matches of the season in the bottom two unless the unexpected happens at Headlingley.
There was another blow for Yorkshire yesterday when target Ben Duckett rejected them to move to Nottinghamshire on a three-year contract ahead of 2019. He has left Northants immediately on loan and could debut against the White Rose at Trent Bridge next week.
That is the bad out of the way, let us have a look at the good. Somerset are set to keep the title race alive with a third successive win. They slipped to 5-2 at the start of this match, but have made all the running since. Tom Abell was excellent for his first century of the season, but Lewis Gregory has been their standout performer all week. The all-rounder hit two aggressive half-centuries and struck key blows with the new ball, highlighted by removing openers Harry Brook and Adam Lyth last night. He is turning into a talismanic figure at Taunton.
A win would see them cut the gap to Surrey to 32 points. Title glory is still a long shot for Somerset, but you have to give them credit for pushing a side who has won six on the trot and five of those by an innings even this far. The two meet at Taunton in the penultimate week.
This is one of four matches left in play, two in Division One and two in Division Two. In the top tier, after an opening day wash out, Essex are now on course for an innings win over Hampshire at Chelmsford. Relegation-threatened Hampshire begin the day on 17-2 trailing by 246. Peter Siddle removed openers Joe Weatherley and Jimmy Adams late last night.
In Division Two, Gloucestershire are closing in on their third win of the summer against a Leicestershire side for who defeat would severely affect their bid for promotion. The visitors are 117-6 chasing 494 to win at Bristol. No chance, I’m afraid, Foxes fans.
Another side in the promotion mix, Kent, have work to do to win at Derby following a high-scoring start to their clash. Kent made 561 before Derbyshire reached 400 in reply, only to follow-on. They are 83-2 second time around, with both wickets going to Adam Riley.
Enjoy the day.