Lamb's beefy century can't save Hampshire's bacon
Greg Lamb's unbeaten 100 for Hampshire was in vain as Northamptonshire edged home by four wickets at The Rose Bowl. Usman Afzaal and David Sales each struck 49 for the visitors as they knocked off their target of 227 in a close-fought encounter. Northants had Hampshire in some bother at 23 for 3 - Kevin Pietersen (11) among the fallers - but the opener Lamb biffed a century and Craig McMillan added 39 to take them to a decent total. But it wasn't enough, and despite three wickets from the veteran spinner Shaun Udal, Northants held firm.
Dominic Cork took 4 for 14 as Lancashire crushed Gloucestershire by six wickets at Bristol. Glenn Chapple and Mark Chilton steered Lancashire to an easy victory after they were left needing just 87 following a dramatic Gloucestershire collapse. Lancashire's bowlers proved they did have a killer instinct which they so badly lacked against Middlesex at Lord's earlier this campaign when they let them off the hook at 37 for 6 and went on to lose by 69 runs. They showed no such mercy this time, killing off Gloucestershire's innings, with the top score a tame 24 not out from Mark Alleyne. Lancashire lost Mal Loye and Brad Hodge early (16 for 2), but from then on their third win this term was never in doubt.
Darren Gough destroyed Nottinghamshire's top order with 4 for 16 and helped Essex to a six-wicket victory at Trent Bridge. James Middlebrook gave strong support with 2 for 27 from his nine overs, to shoot Notts out for 154. The Essex captain Ronnie Irani led the charge, striking 53 from the same number of balls, before Ryan Sidebottom - Notts' most economical bowler with 2 for 15 from seven - held a return catch to dismiss him. Andy and Grant Flower each reached the thirties as the visitors cruised home with nine overs to spare.
Ed Smith struck 93 and Scott Styris added 80 to help Middlesex defeat Worcestershire by 32 runs at New Road - and remain at the top of the table. Smith and Styris's efforts lifted Middlesex to an unassailable 224 for 7 and, although Vikram Solanki and Stephen Moore started well in reply with an opening stand of 47, and Zander de Bruyn added 55, wickets tumbled at regular intervals as Middlesex's bowlers continued undaunted.
Sussex snuck home on the penultimate ball against Somerset in a big-hitting thriller at Taunton, in which nearly 600 runs were plundered from 90 overs. Ian Blackwell struck an unbeaten 134 from No 7 to set second-placed Somerset a whopping 297 for 5 from their 45 overs - only to watch Sussex knock the runs off. Ian Ward and Matt Prior got Sussex off to a flying start with a stand of 40, but Ward and then the in-form Michael Yardy fell in quick succession as the match swung back in Somerset's favour; Keith Parsons responding with 4 for 38 and the heat was on. It was edge-of-your-seat stuff, but it was Sussex who kept their cool and overhauled the total thanks to Prior's 77 and an unbeaten 73 from Johannes van der Wath, who took Sussex home on the penultimate ball.
Tim Murtagh took 3 for 17 as Surrey consigned high-flying Durham to their first defeat of the season. James Benning and Rikki Clarke put on 129 for the fifth wicket to rescue Surrey from dire straits at 26 for 4, Jon Batty and Mark Ramprakash each making a duck. Benning smeared Durham's bowling attack with 66 from 84 balls, and Clarke did further damage with 54 from 67 as Surrey reached 219 for 7. Durham were immediately in trouble in their reply at 10 for 3 as Murtagh struck three times in quick succession - each wicket an lbw. Dale Benkenstein and Nicky Peng added 95 for the fourth wicket to give the visitors some hope, but when Benkenstein was caught by Jon Batty on 44 off Ian Salisbury with the score at 105, they were back in trouble. Peng made 63 but his efforts could not save his team.
Craig White took 3 for 20 as Yorkshire defeated Scotland to by 60 runs at Headingley. Yorkshire put on 214 after Scotland put them in, Anthony McGrath plundering 57 from 69 balls. In the face of an asking-rate of more than five an over, the visitors duly folded to 154 all out, Deon Kruis backing up White's efforts with 2 for 15 from nine overs to stifle the visitors' reply from the outset. Despite 60 from Gavin Hamilton - against his former team-mates - they never recovered.