On the face of it, 255 looked a really tough chase for Essex in a low-scoring match at Taunton. As it turned out, we saw a batting roadshow from former England captain Alastair Cook as the Eagles coasted to victory. Cook scored 52 in the visitors' first-innings total of 129, and followed it up with 110 in their match-winning 257 for 2, defying Somerset's spinners with consummate ease on a near-dusty track (in April!). Delicious.
Warwickshire's season goes from bad to worse. Having salvaged some pride in the second innings of their match at the Kia Oval, they were skittled in the first innings by Yorkshire before crumbling to 85/9 in the second. Ben Coad was a key bowler for the White Rose again, his wickets included Jonathan Trott lbw first ball, and he notched five in the second innings to complete a maiden ten-wicket haul. Warwickshire captain Ian Bell cut a disconsolate figure when he was himself dismissed by Coad and, along with incoming director of cricket Ashley Giles, the pair face a tough task to turn things round at Edgbaston.
Shape of the Game Changes at The Oval
The day had started so smoothly for Surrey. Rory Burns and Kumar Sangakkara were looking more than comfortable as the former approached his century at 211 for two. But, Burns's departure signalled a real change of momentum in this match and Lancashire quickly got the bit between their teeth, slicing through the hosts middle order to make it 262 for eight. Despite some late hitting from Gareth Batty and the Curran brothers, Lancashire were able to enforce the follow-on when Stephen Parry took two in two balls to end the innings for just 319. Simon Kerrigan got Burns for 20 in Surrey's second innings before former Durham pair Stoneman and Borthwick saw out the day. Surrey are 54 for one, 96 behind, and a nail-biting start to day four is guaranteed.
Gloucestershire Bounce Back
A dispiriting loss to Kent in the opening round of fixtures, one which featured a second innings collapse to 61 all out, will feel like a distant memory to the Gloucestershire faithful after they were treated to an innings victory against Leicestershire at Bristol. Liam Norwell was the catalyst, taking five for 33 in the second innings to finish with ten for 99 in the match, but duty captain Phil Mustard will be most pleased with the improvement in the batting department. Mustard contributed 72 at number six after William Tavare's belligerent hundred, most of it in partnership with Graham van Buuren (79). Some late order hitting from Jack Taylor (60) and David Payne (54 no), then allowed Mustard the luxury of a declaration at 466 for eight. Leicestershire, who were competitive against a formidable Notts in the first round of matches, have now lost two from two and have batting problems of their own; Ned Eckersley was the only man to emerge with real credit, having scored 88 and 85.
Josh Tongue hadn't taken any wickets in the first innings of his Specsavers County Championship debut, but he came to the party in style on the third morning. Under overcast skies, the youngster bowled with skill and menace to an extensive slip cordon, collecting five Glamorgan wickets as the hosts were all out for 223. Needing just 28 to win, Worcestershire lost both openers to loose shots before Tom Fell and Joe Clarke got them over the line.