Horton and Laxman steer Lancashire home
Paul Horton made his highest Championship score for more than a year to help Lancashire to a seven-wicket victory against Worcestershire at Old Trafford. In a match dominated by the bowlers it was an impressive run-chase from the home team as VVS Laxman also hit an unbeaten 84. They needed a further 224 at the start of the day, but lost Mal Loye early when Matt Mason claimed his eighth wicket of the match. However, Horton and Mark Chilton added 109 on a surface that had slowed since the first day. Gareth Batty gave Worcestershire brief hope when he had Horton caught at slip and soon had Chilton taken at short leg. But after a brief rain delay, Laxman eased through his innings alongside Steven Croft and Lancashire had few further alarms. The defeat leaves Worcestershire rooted to the foot of the table, but revives Lancashire's hopes after three matches without a win.
David Stiff claimed a career-best 5 for 91 to put Somerset on course for victory against Hampshire at Taunton. Michael Carberry's 123 was the only major resistance for the visitors as they struggled against Stiff's bounce. But it was Charl Willoughby who provided the first breakthrough when Jimmy Adams was well caught at second slip and Alfonso Thomas removed Michael Lumb. Stiff they got to work as regular edges flew into the alert slip cordon, while Arul Suppiah chipped in with a couple. Despite a last-wicket stand of 58, Justin Langer enforced the follow on and was rewarded with three more wickets before the close. Andrew Caddick got off the mark for the game when his yorker removed Adams and Suppiah had Carberry caught and bowled for 52 to leave Hampshire a final-day battle.
Leicestershire raced to their first Championship win of the season leaving Middlesex bottom of Division Two, with a facile eight-wicket win at Grace Road, a victory which took them under an hour to complete on the third day. Middlesex began poorly, when Gareth Berg was brilliantly caught down the leg-side by the wicketkeeper Tom New, while Shaun Udal was also smartly held. Leicestershire dismissed Middlesex for their lowest total this season, 91, leaving the home side just seven to win. They lost two wickets in the process, but the captain, Boeta Dippenaar was there at the end to see them to their first win of the season.
Kent took a leaf out of the Australian book as four batsmen racked up hundreds against Surrey at The Oval. Joe Denly, Robert Key, Martin van Jaarsveld and Justin Kemp all reached three figures to help build a lead of 123 going into the final day. Denly and Key took their opening stand to 247 as Denly notched his third ton of the season before being run out from square leg. Key went to his hundred with 13 off a Murtaza Hussain over, but was part of a mini Kent collapse. Geraint Jones and Darren Stevens fell trying to drive Pedro Collins while Key was unluckily run out backing up. However, the batting dominance returned as van Jaarsveld and Kemp plundered 214 in 56 overs and Kent will be pushing to bowl out the home side on Monday.
Gloucestershire paid from dropped catches on the opening day against Derbyshire at Cheltenham as they reprieved Greg Smith on his way to a career best 121 and also missed Chris Rogers. Smith was put down on 2 by Craig Spearman and Rogers offered a low catch to Hamish Marshall in the slips when he had 4. Gloucestershire slumped from 112 for 1 to 119 for 5 after lunch with Rogers part of the collapse when he chopped on against Jon Lewis. But Smith turned the innings around and reached his hundred with a boundary off Chris Taylor. Tim Groenewald (26) helped Smith add 90 for the eighth wicket before the new ball wrapped up the innings. The Derbyshire openers survived five overs before the close.