It was a case of better late then never at Edgbaston as Essex and Warwickshire could finally get onto the field on the third day. Danish Kaneria was no worse off for the wait as he bagged 6 for 48 to dismiss Warwickshire for 154. They'd been 80 for 1 before losing Ian Westwood first ball after lunch. Kaneria worked his way through the middle order, having Jonathan Trott caught at mid-on, Jim Troughton caught behind and four batsmen lbw. Warwickshire omitted one of their spinners, Ant Botha, in favour of an extra seamer for this game and may be considering their judgement after Kaneria's effort. However, the home side's attack did respond positively as they removed both Essex openers before the close. Chris Woakes, the England Under-19 quick bowler, removed Jason Gallian in a tight eight-over spell and Boyd Rankin, in his first match of the season after a long injury lay-off, had Varun Chopra caught at second slip.
Derbyshire have the chance to make life tricky for Middlesex on the final day after Greg Smith's maiden first-class century helped them to a narrow lead at Derby before the visitors lost two early wickets to lead by just 12 overnight. Smith and Chris Rogers took their fourth-wicket stand to 91 before Rogers was caught and bowled off a leading edge by Kartik, but Smith formed useful stands with former captain Rikki Clarke and especially on-loan keeper Tom New. Smith and New - dropped three times before reaching double figure - added 70 for the sixth wicket with Smith reaching his hundred off 163 deliveries. He eventually fell to Alan Richardson, who worked his way through the lower order to limit Derbyshire's led to 41. It was all defence from the Middlesex openers in reply as Billy Godleman batted 69 minutes for 2 before being caught at second slip. Shortly before the close Ed Joyce also departed, lbw to Smith's arm-ball as his fine day ended on a high note, and a couple of early wickets will give Derbyshire a sniff at victory.
There was another two-day wait for action at Cardiff, but Gloucestershire put themselves on track for a full haul of batting points with Will Porterfield leading the way against Glamorgan. His 93 helped Gloucestershire reach 223 for 2 after 81 overs and he shared an opening stand of 126 with Kadeer Ali after a watchful start where seven runs came off the first 10 overs. Porterfield looked set for his first Championship century, but was trapped lbw by Adam Shantry.
The Somerset top order continued to cash in against Surrey at Taunton with Marcus Trescothick and Zander de Bruyn hitting centuries as the home side declared on 401 for 3. With so much time lost to the weather Surrey should secure a draw, but Andrew Caddick trapped Scott Newman lbw for a duck at the start of their reply. Wickets were a rare commodity for Surrey although they managed to break the opening stand when Justin Langer top-edged a pull to deep square-leg. However, Trescothick and de Bruyn took over as they added 233 for the second wicket. Trescothick went onto 158 off 186 balls, his third Championship century of the season, and his third fifty came off 31 balls. He took 24 off an over from Pedro Collins, but was dropped twice on 56 and 132. de Bruyn finished on 109 when Langer declared with a full hand of batting points.
The match at Chester-le-Street between Durham and Nottinghamshire is heading for a washout after the third day in a row was abandoned. If there is play on the final day it will be down to the captains to decide between a one-innings match or a chase for bonus points.
Click here for a full report from Old Trafford where Lancashire are taking on Yorkshire in the Roses match.
Zander de Bruyn
County Championship Division One
England Domestic Season
County Championship Division Two