Bichel cuts Derbyshire to ribbons
Ottis Gibson completed his third ten-wicket haul of a remarkable season, but Durham didn't have things all their own way on the second day at Chester-le-Street, as Worcestershire made them fight for their wickets. After conceding a first-innings deficit of 115, Worcestershire slumped to 41 for 3 second-time around to leave Durham sizing up an early finish, but Ben Smith, Graeme Hick and Steve Davies all made half-centuries to lift Worcestershire to 330 for 8 by the close. Gibson, however, had the last laugh by dismissing Kabir Ali with the final ball of the day. Earlier, Liam Plunkett's second half-century of the season had lifted Durham from their overnight 201 for 7 to 297 all out.
Mark Ramprakash racked up his seventh century of the season, and 94th of his career - and in so doing went past 30,000 first-class runs - as Surrey enjoyed the upper hand on the first day against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl. By the close he was unbeaten on 124 from 207 balls with 16 fours and a six, and Mark Butcher was alongside him on 51 not out, an equal partner in a third-wicket stand of 102. Without Shane Warne in their ranks Hampshire's bowlers lacked penetration, and Jon Batty also helped himself to a half-century in a total of 283 for 2. The only man to miss out was Scott Newman, who made 24 from 35 balls before being caught off Daren Powell.
Matt Walker racked up an unbeaten 120 - his second century of the match - and Rob Key continued his fine form with 170 not out, as Kent completely dominated the third day of their match against Lancashire at Canterbury. By the close Kent had reached 334 for 2, a lead of 344. After two early wickets from Glenn Chapple and Dominic Cork, Key and Walker combined in a serene unbroken stand of 269, to give their side a chance to set a testing declaration on the final day.
Andy Bichel followed Ottis Gibson's lead in demonstrating that old is gold, as his season's best figures of 7 for 36 gave Essex control on the first day of their showdown with Derbyshire at Derby. After Essex had batted first and been bowled out for 272, Bichel bowled Travis Birt for a first-ball duck, and scarcely let up thereafter in 10.3 venomous overs. Tony Palladino and Ryan ten Doeschate grabbed a wicket apiece and a run-out completed the set, as Derbyshire were rolled over for 139 in 28.3 overs. The day had begun so promisingly for Derbyshire, who at one stage had reduced Essex to 80 for 5, with Graham Wagg and Kevin Dean finishing with three wickets each. But James Middlebrook at No. 7 grabbed the momentum for Essex with an unbeaten 81, and Bichel ensured it was not squandered thereafter.
Carl Greenidge wrecked Leicestershire's top-order with an irresistible four-wicket new-ball burst, before Kadeer Ali and Craig Spearman took full toll with the bat, as Gloucestershire maneuvered themselves into a dominant position on the opening day at Leicester. Leicestershire won the toss and batted, and were immediately made to regret it as Greenidge single-handedly reduced them to 20 for 4. Paul Nixon and Claude Henderson steadied the innings with a vital seventh-wicket stand of 120, but Greenidge completed his five-wicket haul by dismissing Henderson for 81, as Leicestershire were bowled out for 229. In reply, Kadeer and Spearman showed how it should be done, cruising to an unbroken stand of 178 by the close, with Spearman finishing two runs short of his second century of the season.
Ed Smith led by example with an unbeaten 117 - his second century of the season - as Middlesex responded strongly to Nottinghamshire's first-innings total of 473 at Lord's. By the close, Smith had been joined in an unbroken 140-run stand for the fourth wicket by Eoin Morgan, who was 62 not out, but Middlesex still had plenty work to do at 265 for 3, as they trailed by 208 runs. Much of that deficit had been inflicted in the morning session, when Nottinghamshire's tail wagged happily to the tune of 84 useful runs. Chris Read was bowled by Murali Karthik for 61, but Andre Adams and Paul Franks combined to hoist the total from the overnight position of 389 for 7.
Craig Keiswetter provided a turbo-charged finish to a day of dominant Somerset batting, slapping 93 from 103 balls from No. 8 as the Championship whipping-boys Glamorgan were given another tough day in the field at Taunton. Marcus Trescothick and Neil Edwards started the fun with an opening stand of 101, before both men were dismissed for 52 by Alex Wharf. Neil McKenzie and Ian Blackwell also made fifties, but the innings looked like petering out until Keiswetter got going. With useful support from Andrew Caddick at No. 10, Keiswetter cracked 12 fours and a six, before falling seven runs short of his maiden first-class century. He soon shrugged off that disappointment, however, by catching Gareth Rees off the bowling of Charl Willoughby, to complete a satisfying day for his side.