Having begun the season with four straight defeats, Middlesex's fortunes are taking a turn for the better after fast bowler Steve Finn advertised his potential with another impressive performance.
Having brought Sussex's four-match winning run in the Second Division to an end at Hove last week, they have followed up by beating Derbyshire by an innings and 35 runs at Lord's, where Finn took 4-19 in front of England's chief selector, Geoff Miller. Having played both Tests on England's winter tour of Bangladesh, Finn may be in line to win his third cap against the same opponents in two weeks' time.
Derbyshire's capitulation took only 40 overs, bowled out for 143 despite an unbeaten 59 on debut by 19-year-old Chesney Hughes, an Anguillan who has a British passport.
Durham University student Tom Westley, rated an outstanding prospect by Essex, matched the career-best 132 he scored against Derbyshire last September but Kent are still in a strong position going into the final day at Chelmsford in the First Division, where they lead by 283 with five wickets in hand.
Westley and Ryan ten Doeschate put on 116 for the sixth wicket but Azhar Mahmood finished with 5-63 as Essex were bowled out for 341 to concede a first-innings deficit of 133.
James Hildreth, who was out on 99 against Lancashire last week, completed his first century of the season for Somerset against Hampshire. On a flat Rose Bowl pitch, reserve wicketkeeper Jos Buttler posted his maiden hundred but the contest seems destined to end in a draw.
In the Second Division James Harris took 3-39 as Glamorgan pushed for a win with Northamptonshire still 80 behind as they slipped to 80-4 in their second innings.