- Last wicket pair Jamie Overton and Alfonso Thomas saw final 6.1 over ensured victory for Somerset
- Northants return to Division Two after failing to win a single game
- Derbyshire seamer Mark Footitt's 82 wickets made him the leading bowler across both divisions in 2014
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It was fitting that one of the most entertaining seasons in living memory was concluded with yet another thrilling finish. Long after all the other games had concluded it was left to champions Yorkshire and Somerset to serve up one last nailbiter. This time, at Headingley, the visitors were chasing 182 to win in 42 overs but Somerset, who appeared to be heading for victory, slipped from 62-1 to 135-9 before the last-wicket pair of Jamie Overton and Alfonso Thomas saw out the final 6.1 overs to deny Yorkshire the perfect end to the season.
Despite the failure to secure a ninth win of the summer, the Yorkshire faithful stayed on to salute the champions as, two weeks after the title was sealed with victory against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, the LV= County Championship trophy was re-presented to them by club chairman Dickie Bird.
Hours earlier, their great Roses rivals, Lancashire, had suffered the heartbreak of relegation just 12 months after returning to the top-flight and three years after winning the LV= County Championship title themselves. Going into the final session of this relegation decider at Old Trafford the calculation was simple - Lancashire needed victory against Middlesex to stay up while their opponents knew a draw would be enough to maintain their own Division One status. In the end, brave tailend resistance from the visitors denied Lancashire and sent them down.
Yorkshire were rightly crowned champions, with Adam Lyth's 1489 runs making him top scorer in Division One, while his opening partner Alex Lees' total of 971 was evidence of his success during a summer that also saw him crowned the 2014 LV= Breakthrough Player. The bowling attack was potent too. Jack Brooks' 68 wickets were only bettered by Sussex metronome Steve Magoffin's 72, while leg-spinner Adil Rashid, veteran Ryan Sidebottom and Liam Plunkett ensured there was no let-up for opposition batsmen.
One of the few batsmen who got on top of Yorkshire's attack this season was Middlesex's Chris Rogers. The Australia opener hit a remarkable double century at Lord's back in April to help his side chase down 472. Only twice before in the history of the LV= County Championship had a side successfully chased down more. It was the only defeat Yorkshire suffered all season.
Durham were another side who provided some real moments of drama, from the defeat of Nottinghamshire in early September which put Yorkshire in firm control of the title race to Chris Rushworth's sensational 15-wicket haul in a day which almost singlehandedly condemned Northamptonshire to an innings defeat.
No bowler had taken 15 wickets or more in a day in first-class cricket since 1939 since Gloucestershire's Tom Goddard's 17-106 against Kent in 1939.
For two sides, 2014 will be a summer to forget. Northants will return to Division Two after failing to win a single game. Leicestershire did likewise in the second tier and have now gone two seasons without a victory.
At the other end of Division Two, Hampshire's defeat of Glamorgan in the final round saw them not only deny Essex promotion but claim the title from long-time leaders Worcestershire. Saeed Ajmal had been sensational as the New Road club's overseas player, taking 63 wickets in nine games. But the Pakistan spinner had left by the time Worcestershire secured promotion with a nerve-jangling 28-run defeat of Surrey in their penultimate game. It is a match that will forever be Jack Shantry's after he registered his maiden first-class century and ten-wicket match haul to get his side over the line against Surrey.
It also meant promotion was out of Essex's hands, who missed out for a fourth successive year despite a run of six wins from their final seven matches and some excellent performances from New Zealand all-rounder Jesse Ryder, who proved to be an inspired signing and his club's leading Championship wicket-taker.
Another honourable mention must go to Derbyshire seamer Mark Footitt, whose 82 wickets made him the leading bowler across both divisions in 2014.