It may have been Zaheer Khan's day yesterday. It certainly wasn't today. Going in search of a perfect tenth wicket, he found instead a belligerent Darren Gough who pummelled his way to a rapid-fire 50 from 33 balls. The Worcestershire field was one of all-out attack for Khan, and he did find Gough's edge on 5 only for wicketkeeper Steven Davies to spill an easy chance.
In the end Matt Mason finished things off, while Essex followed on. Ravinder Bopara crashed a century to take the match into a fourth day - and Ronnie Irani was on the brink of making his ton before stumps - although Worcestershire will be confident of finishing things off tomorrow.
In the 33 balls he bowled this morning, Khan was taken for a whopping 73 runs, hardly the same bowler who steamed in yesterday and demolished Essex. And he started his second innings in indifferent fashion, too, remaining wicketless after his first 16 overs which went for 76. Another good run came to an end, too: Varun Chopra (4) failed to reach his fifty for the first time at the County Ground, after four innings there.
An intriguing final day is in store at Gloucestershire tomorrow, whereall three results against Derbyshire are possible. Derbyshire declared on 402 for 8, 54 runs behind the home side, after Travis Birt's 181 and Hassan Adnan chipped in with 73. Chris Taylor then lifted Gloucestershire to a 217-run lead, with eight wickets in hand, after cracking an unbeaten 81 by stumps.
It's a similar story at Northants - anything could happen - after the home side played themselves right back into the game on the third day. Northants have Usman Afzaal to thank for lifting them to a surprise lead of 221 runs - and still counting - as he romped to 148 not out before the close. They had started their day against Glamorgan still 95 runs adrift and three down, but clawed their way back strongly through Afzaal, a half-century from Bilal Shafayat and David Sales' 42.
Ally Brown's purple patch just got more purple. After striking a fifty in the first innings, and his heroics against Leicestershire last week, Brown coursed to his hundred today to take Surreyto a magnificent four-wicket winagainst Somerset at Bath. Set a mammoth 353 runs, Surrey's chase proceeded at lightning pace once Brown was joined by Rikki Clarke, who is also in a rich vein; he made 77. Brown's century came up just before play finished, and he needed just 105 balls to do it. He ended with a well-deserved 126 not out as Surrey pulled off a fantastic win.
For a full report on Warwickshire against Lancashire at Edgbaston click here.