Sussex bounce back to top flight
Sussex - relegated last year - secured an immediate return to LV= County Championship Division One after clinching promotion with a game to spare.
A haul of seven bonus points from their match against Northamptonshire at Hove was enough to make sure of a top-two finish, although they remain well placed to complete the win which would all but clinch the Second Division title.
Sussex, who collected three bonus points by bowling Northants out for 125 yesterday, converted their overnight 236 for two into a first-innings total of 381, to which Chris Nash contributed 164.
The crucial fourth batting bonus point arrived when they passed 350 courtesy of Ollie Rayner’s single, although Gloucestershire’s subsequent failure to take any batting points at Grace Road against Leicestershire meant Sussex’s promotion was already assured.
Yasir Arafat struck twice in the 14.4 overs possible before bad light and rain ended play early to reduce Northants to 48 for two, requiring a further 208 to avoid an innings defeat.
Division One leaders Nottinghamshire produced a brave fightback against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge but still face an uphill task to avoid a defeat that will throw the title race wide open.
After Andre Adams completed his third five-wicket haul in consecutive matches to bowl out Yorkshire for 264, 91 from Mark Wagh, 79 from Paul Franks and 72 from Adam Voges helped the hosts reach 357 for six in their second innings.
Notts may boast a lead of 152 that looked highly unlikely when they humbled for 59 yesterday, but Yorkshire - 35 points adrift of Notts going into this game - will consider themselves favourites to wrap up victory.
Chris Wright and Tony Palladino returned their best figures of the season but failed to prevent Essex's relegation to Division Two being confirmed during the match against Durham.
Wright claimed 5-70 and new-ball colleague Palladino 4-57 as the visitors were hustled out for 177 at Chelmsford.
By the close Essex had moved to 103 for one in their second innings, thanks largely to an unbeaten 61 from Alastair Cook, to go into the third day with a significant lead of 194.
Essex’s fate was sealed, however, when third-bottom Hampshire bowled second-bottom Kent out in their relegation clash at Canterbury, giving them a fourth bonus point from the match.
Craig Kieswetter made his highest championship score of the season as title-chasing Somerset moved into a strong position against Lancashire at Taunton.
The England batsman hit 84 off 80 balls, with nine fours and a six, to help his side to 350 for eight - a lead of 91 - by the time heavy rain ended play an hour early.
Gary Keedy took five wickets to reduce Somerset to 276 for eight before an unbroken stand of 74 between Ben Phillips (29 not out) and Murali Kartik (37 not out) took Somerset to a fourth batting point.
James Tomlinson bagged 4-59 to help skittle Kent for 182 and give Hampshire a slender first-innings lead on a second day cut short by rain and bad light at Canterbury.
Hampshire closed on 16 without loss in their second innings, 38 in front.
In Division Two, Leicestershire excelled with ball and bat as they dominated Gloucestershire at Grace Road.
After dismissing Gloucestershire for 159, Leicestershire moved into a commanding position by reaching 147 for one at stumps - an advantage of 283 - on the back of Greg Smith’s unbeaten 70.
Owais Shah, in his final game for Middlesex, closed in on a farewell century at Lord’s despite bad weather cutting short the second day of the match against Worcestershire.
Shah was 70 not out when torrential rain ended play for the day at 4pm, having guided Middlesex to 244 for five in reply to Worcestershire’s 313.
Bad light and rain meant just 45 overs were bowled at the Brit Insurance Oval, where Glamorgan closed on 72 for two in response to Surrey’s 380.