County Championship round-up: Thomas adds to Goodwin misery

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The Independent Online

Five wickets for pace bowler Alfonso Thomas put Somerset in firm control against Sussex at Hove in the one match in the current Championship round to escape serious disruption from the weather yesterday.

Both sides registered their first wins of the campaign last week but it is Justin Langer's team, who defeated Yorkshire at Headingley, who looked more likely to build on their progress after bowling out the home side for 197.

Somerset added 53 to their overnight score before they were all out for 367 and Sussex soon found themselves struggling in reply as Thomas struck three times in his opening four overs, trapping Chris Nash and Murray Goodwin leg before, the latter's run of poor form continuing with a third-ball duck. In between, Michael Yardy drilled a catch to Langer at short cover.

Matt Prior, scoring almost at Twenty20 pace, led a recovery from 9 for 3 to 91 for 3 at lunch, reaching his half-century off only 51 balls, with nine boundaries, but Thomas struck again with his third over of the afternoon session as Prior edged to gully and claimed his fifth success when Luke Wright was caught at backward point. Willoughby had his first success, dismissing Ed Joyce via a catch at slip, and Sussex were 130 for 6.

With Max Waller and David Stiff chipping in with two wickets each, Sussex were all out in the 66th over. Langer did not enforce the follow-on, despite a lead of 170, but suffered an early reverse when Marcus Trescothick was caught off a leading edge at mid-on, but had extended the advantage by 52 without further loss by the close.

Earlier, Sussex's new overseas player, Piyush Chawla, who had taken five wickets on the opening day, suffered some punishment as Somerset advanced from 314 for 9 overnight. Peter Trego led the assault with some hefty blows but was denied a century when Chawla ran out Charl Willoughby, leaving the all-rounder stranded on 92.

At Edgbaston, where only 21 overs were possible, Ian Blackwell finished on 139 not out as Durham reached 403 for 7, while Steven Davies completed a 112, adding 81 for the sixth wicket with Ashley Noffke, before Worcestershire were all out for 415 at New Road, where Yorkshire lost Jacques Rudolph in reaching 55 for 1.

No play was possible at all at Aigburth, where Andrew Flintoff is due to continue his comeback following knee surgery. Lancashire and Hampshire will hope for better weather today. According to England coach Andy Flower, Flintoff needs only to prove his fitness to be a "shoo-in" for the Ashes squad.

In the Second Division at Tunbridge Wells, Kent failed to make a substantial recovery after resuming on 4 for 2 against Essex. They were bowled out for 123 in reply to Essex's 280 as Graham Napier and David Masters took four wickets each. Essex closed on 109 for 3 in their second innings.

At Grace Road, Surrey are well placed to build a good first-innings lead, closing on 217 for 2 in reply to Leicestershire's 165, Mark Ramprakash having made 85 with Michael Brown still there on 82 not out.