Steve Harmison took a hat-trick to inspire Durham to a seven-wicket victory against defending champions Sussex at Hove, despite a fine rearguard century from Matt Prior. Harmison had Rory Hamilton-Brown and Robin Martin-Jenkins caught behind then bowled Mushtaq Ahmed, continuing an encouraging match as he tries to prove his form to the England selectors. He ended with four wickets, as did Callum Thorp who caused the damage to the top order. Thorp removed Murray Goodwin and Luke Wright in three balls, clearing the way for Harmison's moment. Prior, though, stood head and shoulders above his team-mates, as he collected his third century of the season off 117 balls, and reached three figures by lofting Harmison over point for consecutive sixes. He managed to extract 74 runs from the last two wickets, but it still left Durham chasing only 126. An early double from Jason Lewry created a few flutters, however Michael Di Venuto hit a quickfire 60 to settle any nerves.
Somerset are on course for victory at Whitgift School after a fine all-round performance from Ian Blackwell left Surrey in deep trouble. Firstly he moved to 158 as Somerset built a lead of 120, then he took three wickets with his left-arm spin as Surrey ended just 52 ahead with three wickets remaining. Scott Newman offered the main defiance with 91 to follow his 84 in the first innings, but he was caught behind during a collapse that saw Surrey slip from 112 for 1 to 168 for 7. Mark Ramprakash's form slump continued when he was removed for 15. Their problems were compounded when Mark Butcher, batting at No. 8 with a runner because of a hamstring injury, was run out. The only positive for Surrey came from the performance of Jade Dernbach, who claimed a career-best 6 for 72 as Somerset lost their last five wickets for six runs after Blackwell was bowled.
Hampshire will face a final-day battle for survival after the top-order failed against Kent at The Rose Bowl. Once an opening stand of 42 was broken, five wickets went down for 38 against a probing pace attack. Ryan McLaren took two while Amjad Khan struck first ball to collect his first Championship wicket since 2006 as he makes his return from knee reconstruction. Dimitri Mascarenhas began the recovery, adding an unbroken 50 with Greg Lamb, but the follow-on is still 152 runs away. Kent extended their first innings to 431 after another delayed start, as Martin van Jaarsveld progressed to 133 and Justin Kemp hit 51 off 60 balls.
The third day between Yorkshire against Lancashire at Headingley was abandoned without a ball bowled.
Leicestershire wrapped up an emphatic innings-and-16-run victory after another feeble batting display by Glamorgan at Grace Road. The visitors managed to extended their first innings to 189, with Ryan Watkins hitting 33, but second time around they sank to the embarrassing position of 91 for 9. Dillon du Preez again did the damage, claiming three lbws in the middle order, while Nadeem Malik also collected three wickets. The last wicket hit out in a hopeless state, David Harrison smashing 64 off 27 balls with 10 fours and three sixes, with Alex Wharf also reaching a half-century, but it was all far too late to even extended the match into the fourth day. du Preez wrapped up the match with his eighth wicket, having Harrison caught behind, to send his team top of the second division.
Simon Jones and Kabir Ali shared eight wickets as Worcestershire overcame Essex by 75 runs at New Road. A target of 340 on a surface where scoring has been hard work was always likely to be out of Essex's reach and Worcestershire were in sight of victory at 91 for 5. Ali took out the top three and Jones claimed his first wicket when Ryan ten Doeschate was caught at slip. Ravi Bopara (85) and James Foster (43) gave Essex some hope with a stand 111 until Steve Magoffin trapped Bopara lbw. Jones then did his party trick of wrapping up the tail, taking his match-haul to eight wickets.
Tony Frost edged Warwickshire to safety against Gloucestershire with a career-best 141 on an achingly slow day at Gloucester as 248 runs came in 92 overs. Gloucestershire were without Jon Lewis due to a shoulder injury, and in defence of Warwickshire's scoring rate, they were in trouble at 213 for 6 when Frost was joined by the bowlers for company. Frost batted throughout the day, facing 304 balls, and Warwickshire will be grateful he came out of retirement. Neil Carter, Chris Woakes and Naqqash Tahir all offered a broad bat, and it will take some major negotiations to find a result out of this match.
Dillon du Preez
County Championship Division Two
England Domestic Season
County Championship Division One