Plunkett shines as Durham surge
Worcestershire's patched-up seam attack will have fewer easier outings than this as Derbyshire, without a home win in almost three years, suffered a familiar collapse and were asked to follow on by Vikram Solanki. Michael Mason did the early damage, having Michael di Venuto caught behind in the first over, and shortly after dismissing Jon Moss in similar fashion. David Wigley weighed in with three wickets, as only Chris Bassano offered much in terms of resistance with a rapid 26-ball 30. Alamgir Sheriyar, the first player to be loaned out under the new ECB rule, wrapped up the tail to bag a three-wicket haul and take his career aggregate past 500. Earlier, Solanki had shown his keenness to move the game forward by declaring once his side had reached 350 - the mark for four batting points - rather than scratch around with the final-wicket pair. If the rain stays away Worcestershire will expect to get their promotion bid off to a flying start.
Essex 327 for 4 (Jefferson 149, G Flower 65) v Yorkshire
Play did not start until 4.30 at Chelmsford and the Essex batsmen could only extend their first innings slowly as the Yorkshire attack showed an improvement from their opening day efforts. Grant Flower could only add 10 to his overnight score before a mistimed pull gave Matthew Hoggard his first wicket of the season, and Hoggard struck again to remove Ravinder Bopara for a sprightly 46. But without some imaginative captaincy this game is going to become a battle for bonus points.
Somerset 193 for 7 (Blackwell 74*) trail Lancashire 323 (Cork 65, Mahmood 57) by 130 runs
Ian Blackwell offered the only real resistance as an impressive allround performance from the Lancashire attack put them in a strong position at Old Trafford. Blackwell, never one to hang around at the crease, was dropped at slip by Stuart Law when on 17, going on to make 74 before bad light stopped Lancashire making any further inroads and securing a useful first-innings lead. Jimmy Anderson, in his first serious bowl since his chastening experience in the Johannesburg Test, opened with an encouraging spell of 11-7-11-1. But it was Dominic Cork who started the rot, dismissing both openers with just 22 on the board. It was good day for Cork, who helped Lancashire pass 300 by hitting 65 before giving a return catch to Andy Caddick and Sajid Mahmood made his second first-class half century, an aggressive 57 from 71 balls. Mahmood also chipped in with a brace of wickets, and Gary Keedy removed an obdurate Michael Burns following a stand of 80 with Blackwell.
Leicestershire 123 (Plunkett 5-43) and 10 for 0 trail Durham 523 for 8 dec (Hussey 253) by 390 runs
The Durham attack dramatically backed-up their batsmen's efforts in racking up over 500 by scything through the Leicestershire order, forcing them to follow-on a massive 400 runs behind and justifying Leicestershire's pre-season odds of 50-1. All eyes were focused on Steve Harmison to see if he could bounce back from a poor winter, but it was Liam Plunkett, his opener partner, a similarly tall but not yet as fearsome fast bowler, who stole the show. He grabbed the first four wickets to fall, including HD Ackerman and Darren Maddy, then returned to mop up the final wicket and finish with 5 for 43. Two run outs further undermined the Leicestershire innings and vindicated Michael Hussey's decision to grind them down with over 160 overs in field. Hussey was finally dismissed for 253, caught off David Masters and he declared once Philip Mustard was stumped for an aggressive 28. Harmison must hope that it his turn, next, to contribute to this match.