Panesar states Test case

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The Independent Online

Shane Warne made his first Liverpool Victoria County Championship appearance count for Hampshire by taking seven wickets as his team wrapped up a 10-wicket victory over Middlesex with a day to spare.

Hampshire, one of four counties to complete a win inside three days and the first to do so in Division One today, were indebted to their captain as Middlesex were bowled out for 344 in their second innings.

Among Warne's seven wickets for 99 was England opener Andrew Strauss - famously embattled against the master leg-spinner in the Ashes last summer - who could add only 24 this morning but still made 144.

That was enough only to make the hosts have to bat again fleetingly to erase the 17 second-innings runs required long before teatime at the Rose Bowl.

The top flight's other winners were Lancashire, who produced a telling surge with the ball against Kent and then hastily knocked off an unexpectedly small last-innings target.

What seemed likely to be a disappointing day for the hosts at Old Trafford - after they managed to turn an overnight 293 for three into only 363 - improved considerably thanks to England aspirant pace bowler Sajid Mahmood (four for 24) and slow left-armer Gary Keedy (four for 44) as Kent stumbled to a second-innings 124, despite a battling 60 from Geraint Jones.

That left Lancashire needing only 89 to win - and with an uncertain weather forecast for tomorrow, they were in no mood to leave anything to chance. Off-spinner James Tredwell (three for 34) could not stop Lancashire getting home with six wickets intact.

It was an even later night over the Pennines at Headingley, where Sussex reached stumps on 139 for five - still needing 54 more runs to beat Yorkshire.

The hosts' second-innings 221 had set Sussex 193 to win, thanks to half-centuries from middle-order men Darren Lehmann (87) and Michael Lumb (69) and despite Pakistan pace bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan's seven for 62 to give him an 11-wicket match haul.

At Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire did enough to take their match against Warwickshire into a final day - and thanks to Mark Ealham and David Alleyne they may be beginning to think they have an outside chance of an unlikely victory.

Three wickets each from seamers AJ Harris and Ealham helped the champions polish off Warwickshire's second innings for 285 - but that still left Notts 376 runs adrift when they started again.

There were three early wickets for visiting captain Heath Streak. But sixth-wicket pair Alleyne (61no) and Ealham (50no) put on an unbroken 113 in a stumps total of 190 for five, the former making his second half-century of a match he is playing in only because of Chris Read's absence on England A duty.

Glamorgan and Derbyshire are the only Division Two combatants who will still be playing tomorrow.

The visitors' former Durham seamer Ian Hunter took the last four wickets as Glamorgan's first innings petered out to 315, from an overnight 296 for six at Sophia Gardens

Derbyshire then managed only a desultory 192 - opener Steve Stubbings (52) top-scoring - leaving the Welshmen to make 213 for victory.

By the close, a well-contested match was still in the balance as Steffan Jones struck twice with the new ball to leave Glamorgan on 16 for two.

It was all over by mid-afternoon at Wantage Road, where Northamptonshire's England spinner Monty Panesar took the last three Somerset wickets to finish with five for 32 and give the England selectors a nudge as they prepare to name the squad for the first Test at Lord's.

Somerset's second-innings 145 was not enough to make the hosts bat again, the west countrymen suffering their second innings defeat in only three matches so far this season.

Gloucestershire - who inflicted Somerset's first landslide reverse two weeks ago - were on the wrong end of an even worse result this time, against Surrey at The Oval.

Mark Ramprakash (292) made the three runs he needed this morning to post a lifetime best but fell just short of a maiden triple-century as Surrey racked up 639 for eight declared.

Gloucestershire, hustled out cheaply in their first innings on day one, lasted only 42.5 overs second time round as Mohammad Akram took six for 34 to help finish the visitors off for 135 and give the Londoners victory by an innings and 297 runs.

Today's other victors were Leicestershire, who recorded an eight-wicket success against Essex at Chelmsford where slow left-armer Claude Henderson took five for 69 as the hosts mustered 222 to go marginally in front on sufferance.

Leicestershire lost only opening pair Darren Maddy and Darren Robinson, against his old team, as they knocked off the 48 runs they needed soon after tea.

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