Harmison rips through Kent
Steve Harmison warmed up for England's first Test of the summer next week with 5 for 61, leading Durham to an impressive 157-run win over Kent at at Chester-le-Street. Set 326 to win, Kent were soon in desperate trouble, losing their first three wickets to Harmison - including their cornerstone, Robert Key. With Harmison receiving excellent support from Liam Plunkett (3 for 54, adding to his 5 for 105 in the first innings), Durham were simply too strong; only Joe Denly resisted, hooking fearlessly, with a courageous 92.
Yorkshire's superb start to the season continued at Headingley with another crushing win, Tim Bresnan and Adil Rashid both picking up four wickets to dismiss Worcestershire for just 132. It was Bresnan's burst of three wickets in four balls which really did the damage to a fragile, brittle Worcestershire line-up - removing Phil Jaques, Ben Smith and Graeme Hick. It was a position from which they couldn't recover, especially with Rashid bowling so tightly from the other end. Keeping to Rashid was Yorkshire's reserve wicketkeeper, Simon Guy, who was unmistakeable behind the stumps while wearing a new face mask which his team-mates have coined "the Hannibal mask", owing to its resemblance to Anthony Hopkins' mask in the film Hannibal Lecter.
Jon Batty and Mark Ramprakash enjoyed The Oval's flat pitch, both notching fine hundreds to enliven an otherwise dull, rain-affected draw for Surrey against Warwickshire. With the England wicketkeeping debate continuing to rumble on, Batty is yet another name who the selectors will have to consider, after his chanceless and unbeaten 154. The pair allowed Surrey to declare on 400 for 1, obtaining maximum batting points, before the match ended in a draw.
Sajid Mahmood and James Anderson took three wickets apiece for Lancashire who drew against Hampshire, in their rain-blighted match at The Rose Bowl. Anderson removed Michael Brown for 18, with Mahmood nipping out Jimmy Adams and Michael Lumb, as the pair shared the first five wickets. With good support from Glen Chapple, and a touch of "hit and hope" from Hampshire's batsmen given the hopeless cause of the match, the home side were dismissed for 272 when both captains agreed on a draw.
Andrew Strauss also found useful form ahead of next week's Test with a fine 120, also saving Middlesex from all-too-familiar capitulation who drew against Nottinghamshire at at Trent BridgeTrent Bridge. It was Strauss's first hundred since his 116 against Pakistan last August, and he was in good touch - cutting hard, and pulling both Charlie Shreck and Mark Ealham for six over midwicket. He found a steady partner in Billy Godleman, too, who made 80 and their excellent opening stand of 185 effectively sealed the draw.
A superb spell from Tom Lungley helped Derbyshire record a comprehensive seven-wicket win over Leicestershire at at Derby. Resuming in the perilous position of 54 for 4, Leicestershire lost John Maunders and John Sadler quickly to begin a slide which saw them collapse to 137 all out. Only Paul Nixon offered any resistance with a defiant, lonely 42, to set Derbyshire the facile target of 88 which, in spite of losing three wickets, they managed comfortably enough. Simon Katich, the captain, saw the hosts home with a blistering 45 from just 32 balls.