Lancashire’s cricketers, already assured of an instant return to the top flight after their relegation last year, lost Tom Smith for 88 to Will Gidman (five for 61) on the way from 292 for seven to a third batting point on 310 for eight against Gloucestershire at Nevil Road.
Northamptonshire remain by far the likeliest to go up alongside table-toppers Lancashire but, before the rain arrived at Wantage Road, could reach only 15 without loss after Kent closed day two 418 all out.
Durham’s hopes of clinching their third LV= County Championship title in six years are being frustrated by rain, which has severely restricted play nationwide.
The Division One table-toppers need only another 62 runs to win the championship, in their 21st year as a first-class county, but were left on seven without loss against Nottinghamshire at Chester-le-Street as bad weather prevented any play before lunch on day three.
It was a similar story down the A1 at Headingley, where second-placed Yorkshire are nonetheless very well-placed to stay ahead of their opponents Middlesex in the race for the runners-up spot.
Yorkshire, who unlike the Londoners will be in action again in the final round of matches next week, were stuck on four without loss in their second innings but have a lead already of 86 after bowling Middlesex out for 128. Rain in Birmingham was no help to bottom-of-the-table Surrey in their highly-improbable mission to avoid relegation.
They remain on their overnight 400 for five, after Vikram Solanki and Steve Davies hit hundreds.
There was precious little play either in Division Two before lunch.
Chelmsford was an oasis of significant action, Essex opener Jaik Mickleburgh (124no) completing a 155-ball hundred - with 14 fours.
The hosts’ reply to Glamorgan’s 322 all out moved on to 240 for two, thanks to Mickleburgh’s unbroken stand of 108 with Owais Shah (59no), as Essex try to stay in the hunt for promotion.