All too easy for Somerset

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The Independent Online

Somerset yesterday powered to a nine-wicket victory over Essex at Chelmsford to consolidate their position in second place in the First Division of the CricInfo County Championship. Jamie Cox, their Tasmanian captain, added another 33 runs after leading Somerset in their first innings with an excellent 186 as the visitors easily reached their victory target of 64 for the loss of just one wicket after dismissing bottom-placed Essex for 272.

Ben Hollioake's maiden championship century for Surrey against Yorkshire improved their prospects of avoiding relegation after being champions in the previous two seasons. He made 118 and partnered Mark Ramprakash in amassing 215 for the sixth wicket as Surrey declared on 519. Yorkshire, the title winners, made a solid start in their second innings however, reaching 171 for 2 with Michael Vaughan and Anthony McGrath both passing the half-century mark before the close of play.

Leicestershire made an uncertain start against Glamorgan at Grace Road, slumping to 61 for 3 before recovering to 274 for 7 at the close. Ben Smith reached 68 before being bowled lbw by Robert Croft, while Neil Burns ended the day on 66no for the Foxes.

In the Second Division Gloucestershire dispatched the bottom county, Derbyshire, by an innings and 20 runs at Bristol, dismissing them for 282 in their second innings. The hero for the home side was Ian Harvey, who followed up a knock of 104 off 65 balls with six wickets, including five for 89 in the second innings. Martyn Ball also made a contribution, claiming nine wickets in total as Derbyshire came up short of Gloucestershire's first-innings total of 508.

Graeme Hick's unbeaten 200 gave Worcestershire hope of victory over Durham as they declared at 356 for 9 at the Riverside. For Hick it was a new milestone, becoming the first player to score first-class centuries home and away against all 17 other counties in the Championship and in the process equalled the highest score ever made at the Riverside in a first-class match. The 117th century of his career also took Hick level with Don Bradman. Durham closed on 99 for 2.

In Harare, the brittle Zimbabwe attack was shattered by a rampant South Africa in the first Test. In ideal batting conditions, South Africa raced to 414 for 1 at stumps, with Gary Kirsten unbeaten on 202, as the six-pronged Zimbabwe attack were put to the sword. Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs built a partnership of 256, only four short of the national record set in 1933 by Bruce Mitchell and Jack Siedle against England.

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