Langer makes mark for Somerset with triple-century
Division TwoA match dominated by the bat ended with more records as Somerset and Middlesex completed a run-feast at Taunton. Justin Langer was finally yorked for 315, 27 short of the Somerset record that he holds, but the home side set a new record for the highest score on the ground. Their 850 beat Lancashire's 810 set in 1895 and was also the highest total in any match involving Somerset. Peter Trego helped boost the total with a run-a-ball 130, his fifth first-class ton. Middlesex, 250 behind despite scoring 600, needed to bat out just over two sessions and Ed Smith's 103 ended the match in fitting style.
Nottinghamshire, the division two favourites, laid down an early marker with a nine-wicket win against Leicestershire at Trent Bridge. The visitors led by 67 with five wickets remaining at the start of the final day, but any hopes of building a significant lead vanished when Tom New fell to the fifth ball. The wicketkeeper hadn't added to his 57 when he edged Mark Ealham low to second slip where David Hussey took a fine catch. Ryan Sidebottom then wrapped up the tail with 3 for 18 in five overs, leaving a target of 111. Although Jason Gallian fell for 37, top-edging Claude Henderson, Bilal Shafayat and Mark Wagh completed the formalities.
Essex comfortably survived two sessions to share the spoils with Derbyshire at Chelmsford. After the visitors batted on for 20 overs, Essex were set 376 but there was never any chance of them attempting the chase. Varun Chopra batted for two-and-half hours after both openers fell to leave Essex 36 for 2.
Division OneSteve Harmison completed an eight-wicket match haul as Durham made short work of Worcestershire on the final day at New Road. With just four wickets left, it was only a matter of time before the home side folded. When Gareth Batty fell to the brotherly combination of the Harmisons - Steve's fifth wicket - the tail didn't hang around long. Callum Thorp wrapped up the innings with three wickets and Durham bagged 20 points.
It took Sussex less than 19 overs to knock off the 56 runs they needed to comprehensively beat Kent at Hove and open their Championship defence with a 22-point win. Richard Montgomerie completed an outstanding match, finishing undefeated on 33.
Yorkshire showed their winter problems are well behind them with a crushing 346-run win over Surrey at The Oval. Scott Newman offered the lone resistance, falling 11 short of his second century of the match, although he benefited from the attacking fields as plenty of his runs came from third man. When Newman was seventh out the other batsmen had contributed just 36. Darren Gough took another three wickets, including Rikki Clarke who shouldered arms, but the leading performer was Matthew Hoggard as he found movement to remove the middle order. A decent crowd had turned out, but the Surrey fans among them will have left disappointed. Life back in the top flight hasn't started well. "We could surprise a few teams this year along the way if we play this sort of cricket," Gough said. "The body language was excellent throughout. I'm not saying we'll play like that every game. We're going to lose games but hopefully we'll win games also."
Mal Loye's century ensured Lancashire left Edgbaston with draw despite Warwickshire's dominance of more than half the match. After not enforcing the follow-on yesterday Gary Keedy had opened up the chance of a turnaround, but Warwickshire's lower order extended the lead on the final morning before setting a target of 347 with Tim Ambrose's half century. Alex Loudon struck early with his off spin, but a stand of 91 between Loye and Stuart Law guided Lancashire through the final session.