Hampshire left it very late, but when a team is captained by Shane Warne they never stop hunting for victory and managed to secured a win over Surrey by 35 runs after the home side came within touching distance of an amazing run chase at The Oval. Ian Salisbury's third century of his 18-year career, and a stand of 177 with Azhar Mahmood, gave Surrey a sniff reaching 503 after Warne and Shaun Udal, who later had to be carried off on a stretcher with a suspected broken ankle, steadily worked through the batting after lunch. James Tomlinson, an impressive left-arm seamer who had earlier roughed up Mark Butcher, finally broke through when Mahmood chipped a return catch. Warne then finally had Salisbury stumped leave Tomlinson to remove last man Mohammad Akram with 5.3 overs remaining. Nothing had come easily to Hampshire all day despite the early removal of James Ormond. Butcher and Jon Batty added 129. Both offered tough chances to short leg off Udal and when Batty reached his century off 227 balls with a sweet cover drive Warne's decision not to enforce the follow-on was appearing questionable. However, when Udal teased out the pair early in the afternoon and Ali Brown fell to Warne the end appeared nigh. Surrey had different ideas and very nearly pulled off a great escape.
Mark Ealham secured Nottinghamshire a hard-earned 51-run win against Gloucestershire as he claimed two wickets in two balls after replacing the injured Paul Franks in mid-over at Bristol. Jon Lewis cut Ealham's first ball to gully then Steve Kirby edged the next to Chris Read. Gloucestershire had fought to the end with Craig Spearman and Grant Hodnett adding 160. Hodnett was dropped on 27 at second slip by David Hussey but the same fielder later made amends off Paul Franks. Graeme Swann made important breakthroughs with his offspin, including Spearman for 85, but Alex Gidman held up the victory charge until falling 11 overs from the end.
Somerset needed just 75 minutes on the final day to wrap up a comprehensive 198-run victory over Leicestershire and open their Championship account for the season at Grace Road . Already four down overnight, Leicestershire soon slipped further into trouble when Peter Trego trapped Jim Allenby lbw. The score hadn't moved when John Sadler tried to pull Cameron White and was bowled. Belated resistance came from the in-form Tom New, but his 42-ball fifty just delayed the inevitable. Trego collected three more wickets, two with catches at slip from Marcus Trescothick, before White wrapped up the win by removing New.
Danish Kaneria finished with a 13-wicket match haul as he spun Essex to an innings-and-seven-run win against Glamorgan at Chelmsford. On a surface which had yielded just 17 wickets over the first two days, Kaneria ran through the batting once an opening stand of 52 had been broken when Daniel Cherry swung across the line. "The man is a genius," said Ronnie Irani, "In short, he is a captain's dream, and with him in the side you will go into every game expecting to win." James Middlebrook played his part with three middle-order wickets - including David Hemp caught slog-sweeping in the final over before lunch - and Kaneria had Matthew Elliott taken at short leg to remove the last major obstacle for Essex. Robert Croft showed the pitch was still good for batting before running out of partners as Huw Waters, who faced 265 balls in the first innings, fell to his seventh delivery.
Middlesex completed their first victory at Lord's for two years, wrapping up a 154-run success against Northamptonshire. Alan Richardson claimed four wickets, but the key performance was from Indian left-arm spinner Murali Kartik. He took three vital middle-order wickets when Northamptonshire were making decent strides towards saving the game. David Sales (81) and Rikki Wessels (58) had added 129 for the fourth wicket but Kartik removed them both, Wessels taken at silly point and Sales edging to slip. Sandwiched between he snaffled Rob White as Middlesex took a stranglehold. Richardson wrapped up the tail, beginning with Johann van der Wath's edge to third slip, and ended the match by holding on to a return catch offered by Jason Brown.