Middlesex finally got their match against Worcestershire at Lord’s underway, closing day two on 148 for two. England captain Andrew Strauss found form with a fluent 49 before falling to Aneesh Kapil and shared an opening stand of 80 with Sam Robson. Robson eventually fell to Alan Richardson for 59, but Joe Denly ended with 34 to hand the home side the edge after they had been asked to bat.
Keith Barker continued his remarkable start to the season to hand Warwickshire victory inside three days against Durham at Edgbaston. The left-armer followed up his first innings haul of five for 33 with five for 37 to help the home side bowl Durham out for just 139 in their second innings. He was aided by three wickets from Jeetan Patel, who had earlier made an agricultural 30 from 23 balls in Warwickshire’s first innings total of 267. The Bears then knocked off the 36 runs needed for victory for the loss of Varun Chopra for 22.
Nottinghamshire closed day three at Old Trafford within sight of victory following an excellent display with both bat and ball against Lancashire. Resuming on 122 for two, they advanced their second innings to 304 as James Taylor and Chris Read found form with innings of 46 and 54 respectively. James Anderson then returned from yesterday’s bout of flu to end with five for 82 and polish off the lower order to leave the home side needing 328 for victory. They immediately found themselves in trouble as Stuart Broad had Paul Horton caught by England colleague Graeme Swann second ball, and things only worsened when Broad followed that with the wicket of Karl Brown for seven soon afterwards. Andre Adams and Swann both got in on the act as well before the close to leave Lancashire tottering on 39 for five.
In Division Two, Gloucestershire made a better fist of their second innings than they had their first after being asked to follow on against Derbyshire. The day began brightly for the visitors as their last-wicket pair of Paul Muchall (21) and Ian Saxelby (19 not out) gave them a batting bonus point before the duo were finally parted with the score on 206. Chris Dent fell cheaply in their second innings, but Benny Howell atoned for his first innings failure by making 64, while Kane Williamson ended unbeaten on 106, as they shared 117 for the second wicket.
The rain may yet help Leicestershire escape with a draw against Yorkshire at Scarborough as they closed the penultimate day on 102 for three – still 229 runs adrift in their second innings. Just 37 overs were possible for the day, and when Steven Patterson removed Jacques du Toit and Ramnaresh Sarwan early on, it looked as though things may be brought to a swift conclusion. However, Matt Boyce and Josh Cobb added an unbroken stand of 88 for the fourth wicket to give the Foxes hope going into the final day.
Stewart Walters hit 69 but Glamorgan surrendered the advantage to Essex on the third day at Cardiff as they were bowled out for 187 in reply to the visitors’ 259 for nine declared. Tymal Mills again impressed on his way to figures of four for 25, while David Masters ended with three for 68. Essex then closed their second innings on five without loss.
Northamptonshire took control of their match against Hampshire by closing the day one 176 for five to give them a lead of 240 runs going into the final day. David Sales made 58 and was helped by handy contributions from Stephen Peters (22), Kyle Coetzer (29) and captain Andrew Hall (29 not out) along the way. Hall had earlier ended with four wickets as Hampshire were dismissed for 154 in their first innings, with left-armer David Willey also impressing by taking three for 53.
Oxford MCCU and Kent settled for a draw on the final day of their rain-affected match at The Parks with the students closing on 192 for seven in their first innings. Skipper Ben Williams and Charlie Walker had both made half-centuries in a third-wicket stand of 109, but Alex Blake took three quick wickets before the teams shook hands.
Surrey got the defence of their CLydesdale Bank 40 title off to a winning start with a trouncing of Somerset at The Oval. The home side never looked like losing the match once Steve Davies and Rory Hamilton-Brown had put on 163 for the first wicket in double quick time. Hamilton-Brown was eventually out for 101 from 89 balls, while Davies made 72 from 58 in Surrey's mammoth 295 for six. Somerset, who handed a debut to Jamie Overton, fielded three teenagers and a twenty year-old in their bowling attack and struggled to contain the home side's batsman -something that wasn't helped by some untidy fielding.
When their turn came to bat, they lost the experineced pair of Craig Kieswetter and Peter Trego early on and never really recovered in spite of a fluent 53 from Nick Compton. He and Jos Buttler, who hit 29 from 24 balls, briefly threatened to tame the spiralling run-rate, but the Brown Caps' spin duo of Gareth Batty and Zafar Ansari suffocated the lower middle-order to end with three wickets apiece and dismiss the visitors for 190 in the 38th over.
Continues on page two...