Law keeps Essex in hunt

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Stuart Law recorded his fourth Championship century with a fine 115 yesterday to keep Essex in the hunt against Leicestershire at Chelmsford.

His latest effort was laced with 22 fours and arrived during a second-wicket partnership of 194 in 56 overs with Darren Robinson (102) as Essex, replying to a Leicestershire total of 559, moved to within 81 of avoiding the follow on at 329 for 7. The leg-spinner Shahid Afridi was Leicestershire's most successful bowler, with 3 for 78.

The Lancashire spinner Gary Keedy handed the Red Rose county a chance of victory against Glamorgan at Colwyn Bay. Keedy, who took five wickets in the first innings, grabbed three late wickets as the home side crumbled to 86 for 5, a lead of 163. It came after the Lancashire captain, John Crawley, had declared for the first time this season, handing Glamorgan a 77-run first-innings advantage.

In the Second Division, the Gloucestershire seam bowlers Alastair Bressington and Ben Gannon proved to be major thorns in Hampshire's side at Cheltenham, taking three wickets apiece as the visitors were bowled out for 230 to concede a first-innings lead of 104.

Gloucestershire then increased their advantage with Tim Barnett unbeaten on 70 when they reached the close on 104 for 1, giving them an overall lead of 208.

Murray Goodwin (127) compiled his fifth Championship century of the season as Sussex declared on 351 for 8 against promotion rivals Middlesex at Hove. In reply, the visitors lost Andrew Strauss and Owais Shah cheaply in reaching 48 for 2 by the close of the second day.

Alamgir Sheriyar gave Worcestershire's fortunes a boost by grabbing 6 for 88 in a rain-affected match against Durham at Kidderminster. His haul included five wickets in 26 balls for just 11 runs and he helped dismiss Durham for 260 off 61 overs in reply to Worcestershire's 227. The Durham batsmen Martin Love (50) and Danny Law (64) kept Worcestershire at bay and earned their side a 33-run lead to carry into the second innings.

* The England all-rounder Dominic Cork has been ruled out of the fourth Test against Australia at Headingley starting on 16 August after suffering a torn hamstring playing for Derbyshire this week. Cork was dropped for the current Ashes match at Trent Bridge and his hopes of an instant recalled have been wrecked by the injury.