County round-up: Thomas fuels Somerset's title charge

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Following their heartbreakingly narrow failure to win the title for the first time in their history last season, Somerset completed a third straight Championship win yesterday to put themselves right in the thick of the race.

Like their previous two victories, by nine wickets over Durham and an innings and nine runs over Worcestershire, their win over Sussex at Taunton was a one-sided affair. Rain prevented play until after lunch, but Somerset lost little further time in reducing Sussex from their overnight 94 for 4 in their second innings to 134 all out.

Alfonso Thomas struck twice in the space of three balls, having Michael Yardy caught at slip and trapping Ben Brown leg before. Charl Willoughby removed Ollie Rayner with his second ball, and Thomas (4 for 28, to add to 6 for 60 in the first innings) and Murali Kartik (4 for 46) polished off the tail to leave Somerset needing just 94 to win. No doubt with an eye on the weather, Marcus Trescothick thumped huge sixes off Monty Panesar and Rayner in a 46-ball half-century as Somerset's nine-wicket win secured them 21 points.

It was after tea before there was an extended period of play in the match between the England Lions and Sri Lanka A in Scarborough. Surrey's Stuart Meaker took the two wickets remaining in Sri Lanka's first innings before Alex Hales and Joe Root compiled an opening stand of 98 for the Lions.

Hales' dismissal brought in Ravi Bopara, and the Essex batsman had moved to 25 before he edged a flighted delivery to slip. After he was out for just 19 in the first innings, it completed a disappointing match for Bopara, who needed an eye-catching score in vying with Lions captain James Taylor as a possible replacement for Jonathan Trott, should the England No 3 fail to recover from his shoulder injury in time for next week's third Test.

Hampshire continued to respond in kind to Yorkshire's 532 on a shortened day at the Rose Bowl. By the close the visitors still hadn't split the overnight not out batsmen, Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie. Carberry had reached 140 and McKenzie 95 as Hampshire moved on to 291 for 2.