Middlesex have won their first County Championship title since 1993 after a gripping final day of the season at Lord's. A hat-trick from fast bowler Toby Roland-Jones secured the title for the hosts and, in the process, ended their 23-year wait to finish top of English cricket's top flight.
Going into the final day of the County Championship season, Yorkshire and Middlesex were both in contention to win the title, but still trailed Chris Rogers' Somerset side in the table after the west country club wrapped up a three-day win over Nottinghamshire on Thursday (22 September).
All three sides will have considered themselves to have been the favourites to have lifted the Championship at various stages throughout the day, but a last-ditch spell from Roland-Jones ultimately decided its destination.
Roland-Jones, 28, finished with figures of 6-54 and cemented the title for Middlesex, who went unbeaten throughout the 16-game season.
Although both sides knew they needed to push for victory, the action begun in comparatively sedate fashion with Middlesex opener Nick Gubbins easing his way to a becalmed 93 off 200 balls, before falling agonisingly short of scoring his second ton of the game.
England hopeful Dawid Malan notched the 17th century of his first-class career as Middlesex gave themselves a solid foundation before the lunch break. Thereafter, however, the two sides contrived a declaration, with the likes of Adam Lyth and Alex Lees producing some hit-me bowling in order to set up a generous-looking chase of 240 from 40 overs.
Yorkshire showed their intent to chase a tough but attainable target from the outset, with openers Lyth and Lees scoring at more than five an over during the early exchanges. But regular wickets throughout the innings and a tired pitch ensured the defending champions were not able to run away from Middlesex.
Tim Bresnan completed a fine individual game by scoring a second innings half-century at better than a run-a-ball. But his heroics were not enough for the White Rose county, who collapsed in a heap as the required run rate spiralled out of control. Roland-Jones – who had earlier dismissed Azeem Rafiq and Andrew Hodd off successive deliveries – completed the triumph by bowling Ryan Sidebottom around his legs to spark wild celebrations on the Lord's outfield.
Elsewhere on an action-packed final day of the season, Hampshire were relegated to Division Two of the County Championship after Durham beat them by six wickets at Southampton. Their loss ensured that Lancashire survived the drop, even though they were beaten earlier in the afternoon by Warwickshire at Edgbaston.