SOMERSET have secured qualification for Division 1 of the LV= County Championship, and the chance to compete for the Championship and Bob Willis Trophy titles.

Up to this point, the Championship has seen the 18 counties divided into three groups of six teams, with the top two from each group going through to play in Division 1 (between August 30 and September 24).

Lancashire and Yorkshire had already sealed qualification from Group 3, but reigning champions Essex have failed to make it out of Group 1, after the abandonment of their match at Derbyshire (due to a Covid case in the hosts’ squad) ended their hopes.

Somerset needed a draw from their final Group 2 fixture away to Surrey to be sure of progressing, and took significant steps towards that aim by reaching 429 all out in their first innings, with James Hildreth making 107 and Lewis Goldsworthy 48.

Monday saw the visitors move from 280-6 overnight, thanks to Roelof van der Merwe contributing 41, Ben Green 43, Marchant de Lange 29 and Jack Leach 28*.

Their qualification was confirmed by events elsewhere, however, after Hampshire's failure to pick up a fourth batting point within 110 overs at Gloucestershire.

It means that third-placed Hampshire cannot now catch Somerset, although they will go through alongside them if they beat Gloucestershire, who were second in the standings going into the final round of group matches.

Somerset's progress to Division 1 comes despite them starting the season on minus eight points, having been penalised for a pitch marked as 'poor' in 2019.