Brown and Benham thwart Lancashire
Two determined 70s from Michael Brown and Chris Benham gave Hampshire a fighting chance in their match against Lancashire on the second day at Old Trafford. Lancashire resumed on 261 for 5, and Francois du Plessis' 57 - his third fifty this season - elevated his side's total to a challenging 357. Imran Tahir, the Hampshire legspinner, removed Gary Keedy to pick up his fifth wicket, but Hampshire were soon in a sticky position at 35 for 3. Saj Mahmood removed Sean Ervine in his first over - only thanks to a stunning catch from du Plessis at point - before John Crawley inexplicably left a straight one from Glen Chapple. After Michael Lumb was out for 9, Brown and Benham set about their recovery mission in contrasting styles, but put on a vital fourth-wicket stand of 139 and remain unbeaten going into the third day.
Northamptonshire are in complete control of their match against Leicestershire at Northampton, forcing the visitors to follow-on. At stumps on the second day, Leicestershire had fallen to 8 for 1 with David Lucas picking up his fifth wicket. Earlier, David Sales moved onto 150 while Lance Klusener cracked 65 as Northamptonshire added a further 99 from their overnight 274 for 4. And then the hosts' bowlers took over. Nicky Boje pulled off a stunning gully catch to remove Matt Boyce before Tom New edged Lucas to third slip. 13 for 2 became 60 for 4 when Jacques du Toit fell to the impressive Lucas, and although Jim Allenby offered resistance with 47, Leicestershire were steamrolled for 173. Following-on, Nadeem Malik, the nightwatchman, fell just before the close as Leicestershire face a huge task to save the match with two days to go.
Ben Smith's 93 helped Worcestershire steal a 50-run lead over Middlesex on the second day at Lord's, as the visitors closed on 350 for 9. Worcestershire began confidently, Darryl Mitchell and Stephen Moore putting on 50 for the opening partnership, but Danny Evans lured Moore into driving at a wider delivery to make the breakthrough. Vikram Solanki came and went, shortly followed by Mitchell when he was trapped in front by Tim Murtagh. At 76 for 3 Worcestershire were beginning to slip, but they recovered after lunch - largely thanks to Smith, whose fifty came from 83 balls. Stephen Davies (22) and Gareth Batty (39) each shared in half-century stands with Smith who, on 93, was beaten by a lovely piece of flight from Murali Kartik, caught at silly point.
Danish Kaneria's three wickets has put Essex in a strong position on the second day against Gloucestershire at Chelmsford, after the visitors only managed a first-innings lead of four runs. Essex might have had the match by the scruff of the neck, however, as Varun Chopra and Jason Gallian put on 74 for the opening wicket. But when Chopra was bowled by Mark Hardinges, Essex struggled. Vikram Banerjee removed Neil Dexter, and when Ryan ten Doeschate shouldered arms to the same bowler, Gloucestershire had Essex limping on 109 for 6. James Foster, however, ensured Essex wouldn't fold completely, cracking another fifty and was well supported by James Middlebrook (41) to loft their side to 279. Kaneria then took control, removing William Porterfield, Alex Gidman and Chris Taylor, leaving Gloucestershire tottering on 70 for 6, leading by just 66.