Morning and afternoon rain put paid to that, washing out the entire first day of their match against Worcestershire, which they must win to have any chance of overhauling Leicestershire.
Their Australian coach, David Gilbert, was unhappy with the groundstaff's failure to cover part of the square, which could have cost valuable playing time. Rain after lunch rendered that gripe largely irrelevant, but Gilbert's mood would not have been improved by news trickling in from Derby.
In between interruptions for rain and bad light there, Durham surrendered for 142, their seventh sub-150 total of the season, and by the close Derbyshire, who could yet deprive Surrey of second place, were only eight runs behind with eight wickets standing.
Derbyshire's Chris Adams made batting look easy enough in reaching an unbeaten 77 off 56 balls after Phillip DeFreitas had seamed and swung his way to 5 for 60 and Andrew Harris took 3 for 32 as Durham played possum with no hint of deception.
Graham Gooch and Nasser Hussain were going great guns against Glamorgan at Chelmsford when rain finally brought an overnight halt to Essex's pursuit of the pounds 30,000 cheque that the Championship runners-up will collect. They hit unbeaten half-centuries as Essex reached 148 for 1 from the 40 overs possible after rain washed out the morning's play.
Andy Caddick took 5 for 58 off 15 overs as Somerset bowled out Sussex for 141 at Hove. Somerset were 45 for 1 when rain and bad light ended play in mid-afternoon.
The Yorkshire opener Michael Vaughan was unbeaten on 95 out of 213 for 3 when rain ended the first day of their match against Northamptonshire at Northampton.
n Lord's confirmed yesterday that the former Sussex fast bowler Ed Giddins, who tested positive for cocaine in late May, is to appeal against his 20-month ban from first-class cricket.Reuse content