Notts charge into pole position
Nottinghamshire stormed to the top of the LV County Championship Division One table with a rampant display against relegated Surrey, while Worcestershire sealed promotion from Division Two despite losing to Middlesex.
Nottinghamshire started the current round of fixtures fourth of a congested group at the top but their victory on the third day at The Brit Oval eased them to the summit.
The result, by an innings and 143 runs, left Surrey winless for the season and gave England spinner Graeme Swann a day to remember.
He helped himself to 82 from 88 balls as the visitors finally succumbed for 532 and then took control with the ball, taking three wickets as sorry Surrey slumped to 122 for nine - wicketkeeper Jon Batty not taking the crease due to injury.
Worcestershire’s celebrations came despite an eight-wicket defeat at Kidderminster, with Essex’s failure to take full bowling points at Chelmsford the key to their promotion.
It was a brief day’s play with Middlesex reaching 67 for two, Andrew Strauss the cornerstone with 28 not out to go with his earlier century.
Back in the top flight there was a third-day win for Lancashire against Kent at Liverpool.
The 70-run victory was a big boost to the Red Rose’s relegation battle and has drawn champions Sussex into the equation.
Kent’s batting line-up endured a colossal, if rare, collapse to be rolled over for just 92 as they squandered a 126-run first-innings advantage.
Glen Chapple eked 45 runs to stretch Lancashire’s second-innings total to 288 before returning to wreak havoc with the ball, taking 6-40.
Tom Smith weighed in with 3-28 in a result which could be crucial in the final analysis.
Durham’s match with Sussex looks to be heading for a draw at the Riverside as both sides pay the price for the first day washout.
Resuming on 325 for four the home side amazingly failed to reach 400 and maximum batting points as Gareth Breese (63) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (138) both failed to make any serious additions to their overnight scores.
Mohamed Sami (5-95) and Jason Lewry (4-82) then wrapped things up with Durham scoring 380.
Sussex reached the close on 267 for six, with Chris Nash (96) and Steve Harmison (2-59) the standouts.
At Scarborough, Somerset and Yorkshire also look to be heading towards a draw.
Yorkshire, fighting hard for their top-flight status against the championship hopefuls, scored 414 to take full batting points.
Anthony McGrath converted his overnight 50no into 128, with Jacques Rudolph falling two short of making a ton of his own.
Alfonso Thomas collected 5-84 in the field before Somerset’s openers moved to 25 without loss at stumps.
England all-rounder Ravi Bopara will start tomorrow’s final day between Essex and Warwickshire at Chelmsford needing 19 to make a fourth championship hundred of the season.
He scored 81 of a 119-run stand with John Maunders (38no) as promotion-chasing Essex closed on 125 for one, 48 behind after the visitors' mammoth 514 for nine declared.
Wicketkeeper Tony Frost was the star of that knock, finishing not out on 242 - 98 runs more than his previous first-class best.
At the SWALEC Stadium Leicestershire trail by 90 runs with six wickets in hand on 159 for four after following on against Glamorgan.
David Harrison starred with the ball in the first Leicestershire innings, taking four wickets, while Robert Croft’s 2-58 - including the key wicket of HD Ackerman for 56 - undermined their next attempt.
At Derby, rock-bottom Gloucestershire ended the day having made good inroads on a formidable win target of 398 against Derbyshire.
Kadeer Ali led the way with 54 at the top of the order but a double strike by Graham Wagg left them with 118 for two and still needing 280 to record a first win of the year.