Gooch, looking to find some form to preserve his Test place, produced a superb reminder of his ability. He faced just 98 balls and hit 10 fours and a six before sweeping Shaun Udal to Winston Benjamin on the square leg boundary.
His Essex side provided poor support, however, with only their newcomer Ronnie Irani backing the captain up before Benjamin took out the tail with a burst of 3 for 19 in his eight overs.
Later, Hampshire got away to a dismal start when Sean Morris was caught behind off the Australian fast bowler Mike Kasprowicz without a run on the board. Paul Terry soon followed, but Smith then launched a ferocious assault on the Essex bowling.
He put away 10 fours and had added 71 runs with his captain, Mark Nicholas, prior to being caught behind off John Stephenson. Nicholas was to make 47 and Rupert Cox finally saw Hampshire home with an unbeaten 23.
Northamptonshire snatched an improbable victory at Grace Road by claiming Leicestershire's last five wickets for just one run in 12 balls. The home side seemed to be cruising to their fourth league win a row when they needed a mere 17 runs off the last five overs and with five wickets still standing.
But they collapsed in startling fashion from 201 for 5 to 202 all out to give Northamptonshire victory by eight runs with five balls to spare, Rob Bailey, Tony Penberthy and Curtly Ambrose each taking three wickets.
Phil DeFreitas continued his rich vein of form with a decisive spell of bowling that set up Derbyshire's eight-wicket victory over Durham at Derby. DeFreitas followed up his player-of-the series award against New Zealand by taking 4 for 9 from eight overs to blow away Durham's top-order batsmen.
The 28-year-old seamed and swung the ball to reduce Durham to 29 for 5 in the 12th over and this virtually settled the match. Phil Bainbridge and Anderson Cummins repaired some of the damage but Devon Malcolm, who bowled some rapid deliveries, eventually had the Durham captain caught behind off a hesitant prod to re-assert Derbyshire's supremacy.
Cummins ensured Durham achieved a measure of respectability with some muscular drives before he carved Malcolm to Mohammad Azharuddin on the cover boundary, but a total of 144 for 8 was never likely to be enough. And so it proved. Roland Rollins went cheaply, but Kim Barnett and Chris Adams took Derbyshire past 50 in the 10th over and by the time John Wood had Barnett caught behind, the home side were in sight of victory.
Adams went to his third Sunday half-century of the season off 58 balls and, together with the in-form Tim O'Gorman, swept Derbyshire to a repeat of last week's NatWest Trophy victory over Durham with 13.3 overs to spare.
Courtney Walsh, meanwhile, propelled Gloucestershire to their first league win. The West Indian fast bowler removed Graham Rose, Robbie Turner and Andy Caddick in a superb six-ball spell to help beat Somerset by 37 runs with an over to spare at Bristol.Reuse content