Kent sense victory after Arafat show
Yasir Arafat has given Kent an excellent chance of leapfrogging Yorkshire in the table. He made an unbeaten 90 and taking four wickets to leave his side requiring 140 after bowling Yorkshire out for 196 at Canterbury, a poor effort on a good batting surface. Kent earlier amassed 467, giving themselves a first-innings credit of 57, thanks to a final-wicket stand of 69 between Arafat and Martin Saggers (33). Then all of their attack contributed to prising the Yorkshire batsmen out, with Arafat's 4 for 38 leading the way. His 90 not out boosted the lead, while Rob Key converted his overnight 122 to 157. Gerard Brophy as the only Yorkshire batsman to reach a half century as Arafat found swing throughout his spells. With a small target to defend it could be a tough day allround for Yorkshire. The other potentially bad news coming from 200 miles west later on Monday where their appeal against the Twenty20 decision set to be heard at Taunton.
Lancashire are well placed for consecutive Championship victories after their bowling attack demolished Hampshire for 130 in their second innings at The Rose Bowl. Lancashire conceded a deficit of 32 after a morning-session collapse against Dimitri Mascarenhas, but immediately fought back. Glen Chapple completed a miserable match for Michael Carberry, removing him for another duck, and when Andrew Flintoff struck twice Hampshire were 48 for 5. Flintoff second wicket came courtesy of some team-work in the slips after Stuart Law missed Sean Ervine's edge and Paul Horton grabbed the rebound. There was no real recovery as Sajid Mahmood removed Greg Lamb and Mascarenhas in quick succession. But for the second time in the match, the last wicket frustrated Lancashire with Michael Lumb - batting at No. 7 due to a back strain - adding 37 alongside James Tomlinson. Still, the target was a modest 163 of which 34 were already knocked off by the close.
Somerset enjoyed a profitable day against Durham at Chester-le-Street, removing the home side for 261 with all the bowlers chipping in. However, the loss of the entire first day limits their chances of building a lead big enough to force victory on the final day. Justin Langer took a positive approach, declaring Somerset's first innings once they'd passed 350. Durham responded with an opening stand of 68, but after Mark Stoneman chased a wide one they began to lose wickets at regular intervals. At 145 for 6 the follow-on was a major threat, however Liam Plunkett held firm with 52, adding 56 with Phil Mustard and 50 alongside Callum Thorp. It took valuable time out of the match and, although Somerset lead by 107, it will be a fine balancing act for Langer to decide what sort of target to set.
Nicky Boje took 3 for 57 on the final day at New Road to give hope of Northamptonshire staging a thrilling run-chase, but Vikram Solanki's 114 - his third Championship ton of the season - grafted together Worcestershire's second innings as the match petered into a draw. Northamptonshire's first innings fell away quickly in just under 12 overs, as Simon Jones mopped up the tail - as is his speciality this season - with 3 for 8 in 16 balls, including Lance Klusener whose leg stump was knocked over. However, the visitors had gained a crucial lead of 141. Worcestershire's second innings began poorly when Stephen Moore was caught at third slip for 2, but Solanki joined Daryl Mitchell in a second-wicket stand of 95 spanning 26 overs. Mitchell fell four short of a brisk fifty, but thereafter Solanki dominated the scoring as the deficit was erased in the 38th over. Though Boje struck to remove Ben Smith, Solanki and Steve Davies, it was all too little, too late, and a draw was agreed upon after 76 overs.
While England were being frustrated today at Lord's by one South African G Smith, Derbyshire will hope that their version - Greg - can provide a similarly doughty effort, along with Wavell Hinds as much rests on their shoulders on the final day. Derbyshire were six down at stumps, with a lead of 153 which may yet be prove plenty in this low-scoring encounter, but nevertheless they will look to push on during the final day against Leicestershire at Derby. Leicestershire were polished off for 189, both Graham Wagg and Charl Langeveldt ending with four wickets, but then although Derbyshire's batsmen made starts, they could not capitalise. An interesting final day is in store.
Essex continued to manoeuvre themselves into a strong position against Glamorgan after their captain Mark Pettini piled up 92, with good support from a trio of other half-centurions - James Foster, Jason Gallian and Varun Chopra - to bring a first-innings lead of 244 at Cardiff. It was Pettini's highest Championship score this season, while Napier (20 off 8 balls) provided a brief flurry at the end when he struck Dean Cosker for three successive sixes before holing out attempting another maximum. Glamorgan will resume the final day at Cardiff still 209 runs adrift with nine wickets left after losing Gareth Rees to Napier's first ball in the closing stages. Most of the home side's wickets had come from spin - with Cosker taking 5 for 81 and Robert Croft 4 for 97.
Middlesex's young quicks, Danny Evans and Steven Finn, shared the honours to give their team the chance for a final-day victory push against Gloucestershire at Bristol. Evans, working up good pace, removed four of the top five and when Finn grabbed a quick treble against the lower order, Middlsex had a sniff of enforcing the following. However, Gloucestershire's last pair removed that danger, when debutant Ian Saxelby flicked his first ball through midwicket, and Middlesex had to be content with a lead of 111. This was extended by 86 despite two wickets for Jon Lewis and some quick scoring on the final morning could set a target of around 320. Ed Joyce is unbeaten on 38 and he earlier declared the first innings once three batting points had been collected - with Eoin Morgan left on 137 - rather than waste more time. His adventure may yet be rewarded.