Sussex storm to the top
It took Sussex less than 40 overs to crush Durham by an innings and 133 runs at Hove and leap to the top of the table. Yasir Arafat and Mushtaq Ahmed struck three early blows as Durham slumped to 79 for 5 and it was only a matter of time. However, the inevitable was delayed by a 95-ball century from Phil Mustard and he found support from Ben Harmison as the pair added 82 for the sixth wicket. Harmison eventually fell to Jason Lewry, who claimed three quick wickets, and Mustard needed the support of No. 11, Mick Lewis, to reach his ton. He was eventually the last-man out for 103 to give Arafat his fourth wicket of the innings.
Warwickshire moved into a strong position against Hampshire on the third day Southampton, forcing them to follow on after dismissing them for 235. Hampshire managed to add just 109 runs to their overnight score before losing their last seven wickets under pressure from Paul Harris who took six wickets in the innings. Alex Loudon helped him sweep up, with 2 for 58, and there was a wicket too for Neil Carter. Warwickshire had made inroads into Hampshire's second innings by the close, with Heath Streak taking his first wicket of the match, dismissing Mike Carberry for 6. Hampshire now trail by 139 runs with 9 wickets remaining.
There was no action on the third day at Headingley between Yorkshire and Kent meaning that the match is heading for a stalemate unless the captains agree to having a game on the final day.
It continued to be slow going at Old Trafford but Lancashire managed to take three wickets in the play possible against Middlesex while Owais Shah completed his second century of the season. Shah fell to Gary Keedy shortly after reaching three figures and the left-arm spinner also accounted for Scott Styris. In between, Eoin Morgan was bowled by Tom Smith but it will take more attacking cricket, and better weather, over the next two days to force a result.
Somerset's match against Glamorgan at Taunton ended in a soggy draw as rain prevented any play for the second day running.
Essex romped to a convincing victory over title contenders Surrey at Colchester, beating them by an innings and two runs inside three days. James Middlebrook's century - two short of his career-best of 115 - lifted Essex to 530, a lead of 200 runs and then the home side crushed Surrey, dismissing them for 198. Ali Brown did his best to weld together Surrey's innings, but his top-score of 63 was nowhere near enough to stave off Essex's assault. Their attack was led by Middlebrook and Andy Bichel, who grabbed three wickets each.
Only ten overs were possible between Leicestershire and Worcestershire on the third day at Leicester, and this rain-affected match has got draw written all over it. Leicestershire moved on to 56 for 1 in reply to Worcestershire's 456.
Gloucestershire were thankful for some late-order defiance to boost their total over 200 against Derbyshire at Derby. Steffan Jones and Graham Wagg did most of the damage as Gloucestershire slipped to 146 for 7. But the bowlers, especially James Averis, played sensibly to lift the innings. Jones and Wagg ended with seven wickets between them but Jon Lewis hit back before the close by removing Steve Stubbings.