Hall continues Northants' charge
Northamptonshire are closing in on the top division after another day of complete dominance against Leicestershire at Wantage Road and Essex's problems against Derbyshire. Andrew Hall continued to have a major impact on proceedings, reaching 159 as Northamptonshire declared on 600 for 8. Hall then bagged 4 for 41 as the visitors fell for 218 and were 30 for 2 following on. Hall and Nicky Boje added 141 for the seventh wicket, with Boje - whose fifty took 35 balls - selflessly calling a halt with him ten short of his century. Leicestershire started solidly, but from 106 for 1 lost nine wickets for 112. Hall started the demise when he removed Greg Smith and added Josh Cobb and James Taylor for ducks. The rest didn't offer much except for Tom New. Alex Wakely took two fine reaction catches at short leg to remove Smith and Paul Nixon (52). Asked to bat again, Leicestershire's struggles continued as David Lucas struck twice before the close and they are facing the wooden spoon
Gloucestershire did all they could to keep their slim promotion hopes alive as James Franklin followed his five-wicket haul with an unbeaten 104 to lead them to 439 for 5 against Kent at Bristol. The home side were already in the lead when Franklin and Stephen Adshead joined forces to add 144 in 30 for the sixth wicket and they ensured a full hand of batting points. Franklin reached his hundred from 151 balls against a Kent attack showing end-of-season weariness. The early headway had been made by Hamish Marshall, who cracked 87 off 86 balls, while Chris Taylor contributed 69. By the close, Adshead was closing in on his hundred as he ended on 86. Gloucestershire, though, needed too many results to go their way and not enough are.
Glamorgan, too, are set to miss out on promotion but their openers signed off the season in style as Gareth Rees and Mark Cosgrove added an unbroken 271 against Surrey at The Oval. Cosgrove ended the day on 145, while Rees' fine form continued with him on 109 and he passed 1000 first-class runs for the season. However, Surrey should have removed Cosgrove early when he was dropped at slip on 12, while he was missed again 29 when an edge flew between a motionless first and second slip. Already there have been four century-makers in the game although Usman Afzaal couldn't add to his overnight 170 when he was bowled by Garnett Kruger. Matthew Spriegel, however, completed his maiden first-class hundred before Kruger ended with the manful figures of 6 for 93.
Essex fought back against Derbyshire at Derby, but have plenty still to do to earn promotion. Andrew McGlashan watched the action.
With survival assured after Sussex's collapse, Lancashire can now concentrate on finishing the season with victory against Warwickshire at Old Trafford. They built a lead of 205 on a day hit by bad light stoppages where VVS Laxman led the way with 113. Steven Croft - dropped on 3 - was the other main contributor with 79 and the overnight pair took their stand to 154. Both batsmen fell to Andrew Miller, who also had Glen Chapple caught behind. Luke Sutton and Kyle Hogg edged the lead further head as they added 56 and now it's a case of who wants to push hard over the final two days. There were seven stoppages due to light, the final one when the sun was shining off the media centre rood for the second day running.
Sussex's relegation was confirmed when they were bowled out against Nottinghamshire. Jon Culley reports from Trent Bridge.
Yorkshire and Hampshire are both secure in Division One as there final game continues. John Ward watched the action at Headingley.
Worcestershire served up an awful bowling display against Durham. George Dobell was at New Road.