Rain across the country meant early finishes on the final day of the fourth round of Bob Willis Trophy games.
Umpires Peter Hartley and James Middlebrook called things off at 10.30am at Headingley, where Yorkshire and Lancashire had been frustrated by rain throughout the four days. Yorkshire will go into their final fixture at home to Leicestershire in with a chance of qualification, while Lancashire host group leaders Derbyshire at Liverpool.
“Going into the last round of fixtures, we’ve still got a chance of getting to Lord’s,” said head coach Andrew Gale. “I’m really pleased with the way it’s gone for us so far.”
The plug had been pulled on Worcestershire and Warwickshire at New Road at a similar time, with large puddles formed on the outfield. Worcestershire remain in contention heading into their final game at home to group leaders Somerset.
“You can’t do much about the weather,” said Joe Leach, the club captain. “It looked pretty bleak for a few days and we knew we were going to get this storm. It sets us up for what in effect is a red ball semi-final in a couple of weeks’ time – if you had offered us that at the start of the season, we would have absolutely taken that.”
Derbyshire are North Group leaders after no play was possible in their game at Durham, but were hit with the news that Ben Aitchison is out for the season with an ankle injury.
Steve Kirby, their assistant coach, said that his club’s success showed why the Bob Willis Trophy format should be considered on a regular basis. “I really like the format – it allows everybody the opportunity to win the County Championship,” he said. ” I don’t know what they’ll do next year, whether they’ll look at this and see if it’s something they’ll move forward with because I really like it.
“There are no dead games: three conferences and every game means something. Every game for us is a cup final and we are loving every moment of it.”
Essex lost their 100% record due to persistent rain at Arundel, but remain in with a strong chance of qualifying for the Lord’s final.
“Alastair Cook was complimentary about how we bowled which I was pleased to hear,” said Adi Birrell, Hampshire‘s head coach. “I thought Mason [Crane] did particularly well and [Ian] Holland again showed he had the skills with the new ball.
“With only one team to go and two to qualify I think that qualifying is probably gone, but I think it has been a very good tournament. We have learned a lot about our guys and some have had an opportunity they probably wouldn’t have had with a full side.”