Middlesex face an almost impossible task to avoid defeat against the champions Nottinghamshire today, and Scott Styris' men are in serious danger of relegation from the First Division of the County Championship.
On day three of four at Lord's yesterday, Middlesex closed on 274 for 6 in their second innings after being bowled out for a paltry 230 in their first knock. That leaves them needing to find another 138 runs just to make Nottinghamshire bat again, after the visitors amassed a mammoth 642 for 9 declared in their first dig, with big centuries from their captain, Stephen Fleming, Samit Patel and Will Smith.
That Middlesex made a fight of things in their second innings was thanks almost entirely to the former England batsman Ed Smith, who made 147 before falling leg before to Ryan Sidebottom, one of three wickets for the left-arm swing bowler.
At the top of the First Division, Hampshire look likely to enhance their prospects of finishing in third place in the table, with victory over Durham today at the Riverside. Shane Warne's men bowled out the home side for just 195, a deficit of 230 on first innings. Warne picked up two more wickets and there was another three-wicket haul for England's forgotten paceman, Chris Tremlett.
In their second innings, Hampshire closed on 134 for 0 yesterday, a lead of 364, with unbeaten half-centuries from James Adams and Michael Carberry.
In the Second Division, Northamptonshire are in a strong position against Glamorgan. The Welsh county, who were bowled out for 204 in their first innings, then saw Northamptonshire reach 369 all out largely thanks to another century from the South African all-rounder Lance Klusener. Western Australia's Chris Rogers also chipped in with 77.
Glamorgan were then reduced to 65 for 2 in their second innings, with the England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar picking up David Hemp's scalp in a spell of 1 for 13 off 14 overs.
At the top of the table, champions-elect Surrey are in danger of defeat at Bristol. Gloucestershire, 171 runs ahead on first innings, declared their second innings on 329 for 8, setting Surrey 501 to win. They closed on 44 for 1 with Scott Newman the man back in the hutch.
Finally, Worcestershire, who are looking to pip Essex for the other promotion spot behind Surrey, are in a strong position against Leicestershire at New Road.
New Zealander Lou Vincent smashed a century as Worcestershire declared their second innings on 378 for 8, Graeme Hick chipping in with a half-century, setting the visitors an unlikely 451 to win.Reuse content