Durham rout hapless Leicestershire
Worcestershire remained on course for victory despite a super hundred from Michael di Venuto and bitterly cold conditions. The hero of the day was Gareth Batty, who bowled 32 overs on the spin in returning 3 for 76 before bad light and drizzle brought a premature end to the day at tea. Following on 215 in arrears, di Venuto and Steve Stubbings put on 150 for the first wicket before Batty grabbed three wickets in five overs. di Venuto was stumped giving Batty the charge, and that triggered a mini collapse as Derbyshire lost four wickets for 25, including two to good slip catches by Graeme Hick. Stubbings, who played a solid anchor role all day, reached his fifty in four-and-a-quarter hours and was still there at the close.
Essex 394 for 4 (A Flower 61*, Irani 51*) v Yorkshire
Rain was again the only winner at Chelmsford as just 15 overs play was possible. Essex were on the verge of their fifth batting point when the weather closed in, thanks to an unbroken fifth wicket stand of 93 between Andy Flower and Ronnie Irani. Both batsmen passed their fifties as the Yorkshire attack failed to make any further inroads into the Essex line-up. Irani provided the only bright spot, cracking successive fours off Deon Kruis and driving Chris Silverwood for a straight six.
Lancashire 323 and 33 for 1 lead Somerset 272 (Blackwell 122) by 84 runs
Ian Blackwell sent an early-season reminder to England selectors with a hundred at Old Trafford, reaching three figures from 151 balls and then taking the attack to the Lancashire bowlers. Blackwell deposited Gary Keedy into the pavilion for a massive six, but was then well caught at deep square-leg off Kyle Hogg. Richard Johnson had offered valuable support to Blackwell in an eighth wicket stand of 81 before he was Hogg's first victim of the day and then Somserset's last three wickets fell in eight balls. Andy Caddick dismissed Iain Sutcliffe fourth ball, but Mal Loye attacked the bowling to settle the Lancashire nerves, before the rain set in just after lunch.
Durham (20 pts) 523 for 8 dec beat Leicestershire (1 pt) 123 (Plunkett 5-43) and 185 (Maunders 50, Harmison 4-30) by an innings and 216 runs
Durham wrapped up a comprehensive innings victory as Leicestershire's second innings only faired marginally better than their dismal effort on Thursday. Another impressive performance from the Durham seamers was the catalyst, with Steve Harmison finally getting in on the wicket-taking act with a devastating spell of 3 for 0 in 15 deliveries to rip through Leicestershire's middle order. Only John Maunders resisting for long, making Leicestershire's only half-century of the game. Although David Masters put the Leicestershire top-order to shame, by hanging around for over an hour, there was no denying Durham their three-day victory when Plunkett deservedly grabbed the final wicket, trapping Masters lbw, completing a nine-wicket haul for the match.