Half-centurions propel Lancashire
Paul Horton, Stuart Law and Lou Vincent each hit fifties to put Lancashire in a strong position on the first day against Hampshire at Old Trafford. Vincent was in typically damaging mood, crashing nine fours and two sixes in his belligerent 58 from 69 while Horton's came from a slightly more subdued 88. However, Hampshire had a trick up their sleeve: Imran Tahir, a Pakistani legspinner making his debut, and it was he who removed Vincent when he swept him straight to Michael Lumb at short fine-leg. Horton also fell to Tahir after lunch and, after a brief break for rain, Law notched his fifty from 104 balls. Tahir finished with 4 for 80 from 31 probing overs.
Northamptonshire took control of their match against Leicestershire with David Sales remaining not-out on 113 at stumps, on the first day at Northampton. Dillon du Preez had removed Niall O'Brien for just 9 while Robert White - who looked in great touch - fell for 20 when he edged Jim Allenby to Paul Nixon. But then Stephen Peters (65) combined with Sales in a fine third-wicket partnership of 114, and Sales was in typically destructive mood to punish anything wide. Peters was less assured and should have been caught by HD Ackerman earlier on in his innings, but he progressed to fifty with a top-edge as Leicestershire's bowlers were frustrated. He soon fell, though, while Sales motored onwards, cracking 15 fours and a huge six into a neighbouring gardens as Northamptonshire stole the honours.
Graham Napier's fine form continued, with 4 for 50 to help Essex dismiss Gloucestershire for 275 at Chelmsford in his first home Championship match of the season. Marcus North was the mainstay for the visitors, his innings coming to an agonising end sweeping to short fine-leg on 98 when he was caught off Danish Kaneria who had also removed Chris Taylor. Mark Hardinges boosted them with an unbeaten 40 after Jon Lewis had no hesitation choosing to bat in the sun. Varun Chopra and Jason Gallian saw Essex to the close with few problems on 66 without loss.