Lancashire and Sussex sense final
Durham's first Lord's final is still within their grasp after a 28-run victory over Nottinghamshire, but they had to survive a scare after an astonishing innings by Chris Read. Notts were in tatters at 95 for 8 but Read began to cut loose, adding 155 for the ninth wicket with Andy Harris. Read's century came from 93 balls before eventually falling for a career-best 135 with 10 fours and six sixes. Jimmy Maher and Jon Lewis gave Durham an outstanding platform with an opening stand of 155 and Maher pushed on to his second C&G hundred of the season off 120 balls. Ottis Gibson then ran through the Nottinghamshire top order with three early wickets, leaving only Chris Read to make an impression with the bat. But what an impression it was.
Worcestershire beat their Midlands rivals Warwickshire by 58 runs at Edgbaston. Stephen Moore and Vikram Solanki laid the platform for Worcestershire's healthy 267 with a second-wicket stand of 111. Solanki was especially fluent in his 55-ball 60. The Warwickshire attack pulled the innings back marginally with Nick James, the England Under-19 left-arm spinner, being the pick of the attack on his debut. Jim Troughton struck a half-century in reply, but no one could build the necessary momentum for Warwickshire as Gareth Batty and Ray Price shared five wickets.
Sussex are on the verge of the final after Richard Montgomerie hit an unbeaten 108 against Ireland. A target of 217 proved a walk in the park for Sussex with Chris Adams clubbing 65 in a stand of 130 with Montgomerie. It was a commendable effort from Ireland to pass 200 after being reduced to 10 for 3 by James Kirtley and Jason Lewry. Pete Gillespie hit 51 and Kyle McCallan a useful 41 to boost the Irish total. Luke Wright also impressed with 4 for 56.
Middlesex convincingly won their London battle with Surrey as they cruised to a 108-run win at Southgate. Surrey fielded a very young side and were never in the hunt once Owais Shah (76) and Ben Scott (73 not out) turned the innings around from an unsteady 129 for 5. For Scott it was a career-best score, coming at a run-a-ball, and he added 84 with Shah. Johann Louw took two early wickets and Rikki Clarke's first-ball run out meant Surrey were always struggling. Scott Styris chipped in with two as did Chris Peploe.
Andy Flower showed how to play on a turning pitch and guided Essex to a comfortable five-wicket win against Gloucestershire. James Middlebrook and Tim Phillips, the Essex spinners, had found plenty of help from a dusty surface and 217 did not appear to be too far from a par score. However, Flower produced the perfect finishing innings and, along with useful contributions from Middlebrook and James Foster, eased Essex home with 15 balls to spare. Phil Weston had made Gloucestershire's only half-century and other batsman were guilty of throwing away good starts.
Kent blitzed the Glamorgan attack for 332 then eased to a 41-run win at Cardiff. Neil Dexter, 21-year-old batsman from Johannesburg anchored the innings with 135 with his first one-day century while Andrew Hall hit 100 off 91 balls. However, Darren Stevens was the most destructive of the top order, launching the innings with a rattling 65-ball 82. Glamorgan never threatened the total despite some feisty lower-order hitting and Amjad Khan finished with three wickets.