Middlesex registered the first win of the Specsavers County Championship season, beginning life in Division Two with a three-day victory over Northamptonshire.
As in the first innings Tim Murtagh and James Harris proved too hot to handle, sharing eight wickets at Lord’s as the visitors were beaten by 160 runs.
Murtagh took the first and last wickets to fall – Ben Duckett and Ben Sanderson respectively – as Northants succumbed to 142 all out, while Harris’ haul saw him bank match figures of nine for 48.
Toby Roland-Jones and Australian debutant Hilton Cartwright bagged the remaining wickets, while Rob Newton’s 44 from opener was the only act of reasonable resistance.
In Division One, England hopeful Haseeb Hameed once again failed to make an impression in Lancashire’s evenly-fought game against Nottinghamshire.
The Red Rose will begin day four on 58 for two – six runs behind – after Harry Gurney’s double strike at Old Trafford.
Hameed’s 19 followed up an earlier score of three but his fellow international aspirants Liam Livingstone and Keaton Jennings were still in place.
Livingstone earlier claimed three wickets as Nottinghamshire were dismissed for 222.
At the Ageas Bowl Kyle Abbott helped Hampshire position themselves for victory on the final day against last year’s second-tier champions Worcestershire.
The Pears were set 324 to win on the third morning, Hampshire having eked out 81 for their last two wickets.
Abbott made 51 from number nine to aid that cause then struck three times with the new ball as Worcestershire reached 59 for three either side of rain breaks.
If the weather holds the hosts will fancy their chances of adding seven more scalps with 265 runs still to play with.
The eagerly-anticipated meeting between defending champions Essex and Yorkshire was washed out without a ball bowled for the third day in a row.
Headingley groundsman Andy Fogarty bemoaned “the worst pre-season I’ve known in 30-odd years”, while Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur denied rebuilding works have contributed.
Back in Division Two, Olly Stone stole the show for Warwickshire on his long-delayed championship debut against Sussex.
Stone missed a year through injury after signing for the Bears and showed pace and skill to claim six for 52 at Edgbaston.
Yet time already lost from the game means his eye-catching efforts – none more so than a superb bouncer to remove Luke Wright – will end in a draw.
Sussex will restart on 194 for six in their first innings, responding to Warwickshire’s 299.
Gloucestershire moved to the cusp of victory over Kent at Canterbury, with nine wickets in hand and just 47 runs still required.
With a 46-run lead already banked, they dismissed Kent for 153 as rookie Ryan Higgins scooped up five wickets.
Needing 108 to take the win, Benny Howell’s unbeaten 34 saw them to 61 for one at stumps.