County Championship: Middlesex begin the promotion push with season-opening win
Last Updated: 15/04/18 7:45pm
James Harris grabbed four second-innings wickets, and nine in the match, as Middlesex launched their promotion push from Division Two of the Specsavers County Championship by clinching a convincing 160-run win over Northamptonshire on day three.
Harris claimed 4-39 - while Tim Murtagh pitched in with 4-36 - to go with his 5-9 in the first innings as Middlesex skittled Northants for 142 at Lord's, having been set 303 to win late the previous evening.
A half-century partnership for the fourth-wicket between Rob Newton (44) and skipper Alex Wakely (26) briefly gave the visitors a flicker of hope but, once they had been parted, the inevitable collapse came - seven wickets falling for 47 runs.
Over in Division One, Lancashire trail Nottinghamshire by the slender margin of six runs as they finished 58-2 in their second innings when a combination of bad light and rain brought play to an early close at Old Trafford.
Earlier, Nottinghamshire - resuming on 127-6 in their first innings, still 31 behind - managed to drag themselves up to a more than respectable score off 222, earning a surprise 64-run lead.
Riki Wessels (44) and Tom Moores (38) put on 82 for the seventh wicket before part-time offspinner Liam Livingstone (3-27) ultimately ran through the lower order.
Lancashire then lost Haseeb Hameed (19) and Alex Davies (0) to Harry Gurney (2-22), though Keaton Jennings is still at the crease, unbeaten on 27.
Minimal play was possible on day three at The Ageas Bowl, but Hampshire were able to reduce Worcestershire to 59-3, having earlier set them 324 to win.
At the start of play, the home side led by 242, with only two second-innings wickets intact, but Kyle Abbott fired 51 runs from 74 balls to set Worcestershire a 300-plus target.
Rain disrupted that run-chase, before Abbott again starred - this time with ball in hand - as he took all three Worcestershire wickets, for 27 runs, to have Hampshire on course for an opening win heading into day four.
Meanwhile, for a third day running, there was no play possible at Headingley between Yorkshire and defending champions Essex due to bad weather and a wet outfield.
Back in Division Two, Gloucestershire are a mere 47 runs away from victory, with nine wickets remaining, heading into the final day of their low-scoring clash with Kent at Canterbury.
Kent made a slightly better fist of their second innings, having been bowled out for just 64 in their first, managing to put 153 on the board this time out - opener Daniel Bell Drummond (61) hitting a half century.
But, with Bell-Drummond's counter-attacking 63-ball knock having helped Kent get off to a decent start at 75-1, and a slender lead of 29, the home side suffered another almighty collapse with his wicket, five falling for just 14 runs - Ryan Higgins claiming 5-22.
Some handy lower-order contributions from Adam Rouse (21) and Matt Henry (14) helped Kent at least set Gloucestershire over a hundred to win, but the visitors were very well placed at 61-1 in pursuit of 108 by stumps.
New Zealand paceman Henry bowled captain Chris Dent (6) in the third over, but that would be Kent's only success.
At Edgbaston, promising Warwickshire quick Olly Stone claimed all six Sussex wickets as they struggled to 194-6 in their first innings.
In reply to the home side's 299, Sussex slipped to 88-5 after Stone's initial burst brought him five-for, including Luke Wells (29) and Luke Wright to consecutive deliveries, to put him on a hat-trick.
Stone (6-52) returned to claim a further wicket of Michael Burgess after a counter-attacking 48 from 45 balls. His efforts, as well as Sussex captain Ben Brown's - unbeaten on 43 - helped recover the innings somewhat, with the game seemingly heading for a draw going into the final day.