A review of the action in the opening round of Specsavers County Championship matches.
Lancashire lost eight wickets for 15 runs on an extraordinary final morning as Nottinghamshire began life back in Division One of the Specsavers County Championship with a win.
The Red Rose resumed on 58 for two and six runs in arrears at Old Trafford, but dramatically collapsed to 73 all out as Harry Gurney and Jake Ball ran amok.
Left armer Gurney took first-class best figures of six for 25, while Ball boosted his chances of an England recall this summer with a nine-wicket match haul.
Nottinghamshire were therefore left a paltry victory target of 10, but even the chase was not without excitement as Joe Mennie took three wickets in eight balls, including two in two.
New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor was out for a golden duck with one still required before newly-promoted Nottinghamshire got over the line with six wickets to spare.
Worcestershire, who pipped Nottinghamshire to last season's Division Two title, opened their campaign back in the top-flight with a 196-run defeat against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Kyle Abbott's late burst had left Worcestershire wobbling on 59 for three in pursuit of an unlikely 324 and the Pears succumbed to 127 all out.
Travis Head provided the only meaningful resistance with 45 not out as Abbott finished as the pick of the bowlers with four for 45.
The much-anticipated clash between Yorkshire and county champions Essex ended in a washout, with the Headingley pitch once more deemed unsuitable as the venue suffered its first-ever four-day abandonment.
Essex coach Anthony McGrath, who spent his entire playing career at Yorkshire, was disappointed as he said: "We'd have at least liked to see some work going on out there. It was almost conceding that we weren't going to play without doing anything."
In Division Two, Benny Howell's unbeaten half-century saw Gloucestershire clinch a five-wicket triumph over Kent following a mini-wobble at Canterbury.
From 81 for one - needing 27 more for victory - the visitors stuttered to 102 for five, but Howell's 52 not out steered them to their total.
David Wiese registered the first championship century of the season as Sussex's rain-interrupted clash with Warwickshire ended in a draw at Edgbaston.
Wiese amassed 106 from 105 deliveries from number nine as Sussex were all out for 374 and a 75-run first-innings lead, with Olly Stone claiming eight for 80 on his first championship appearance for the Bears.
The players shook hands with Warwickshire on 87 for three in their second innings.
Middlesex registered the first win of the Specsavers County Championship season, beginning life in Division Two with a three-day victory over Northamptonshire.
As in the first innings Tim Murtagh and James Harris proved too hot to handle, sharing eight wickets at Lord's as the visitors were beaten by 160 runs.
Murtagh took the first and last wickets to fall - Ben Duckett and Ben Sanderson respectively - as Northants succumbed to 142 all out, while Harris' haul saw him bank match figures of nine for 48.
Toby Roland-Jones and Australian debutant Hilton Cartwright bagged the remaining wickets, while Rob Newton's 44 from opener was the only act of reasonable resistance.
In Division One, England hopeful Haseeb Hameed once again failed to make an impression in Lancashire's evenly-fought game against Nottinghamshire.
The Red Rose will begin day four on 58 for two - six runs behind - after Harry Gurney's double strike at Old Trafford.
Hameed's 19 followed up an earlier score of three but his fellow international aspirants Liam Livingstone and Keaton Jennings were still in place.
Livingstone earlier claimed three wickets as Nottinghamshire were dismissed for 222.
At the Ageas Bowl, Kyle Abbott helped Hampshire position themselves for victory on the final day against last year's second-tier champions Worcestershire.
The Pears were set 324 to win on the third morning, Hampshire having eked out 81 for their last two wickets.
Abbott made 51 from number nine to aid that cause then struck three times with the new ball as Worcestershire reached 59 for three either side of rain breaks.
If the weather holds, the hosts will fancy their chances of adding seven more scalps with 265 runs still to play with.
The eagerly-anticipated meeting between defending champions Essex and Yorkshire was washed out without a ball bowled for the third day in a row.
Headingley groundsman Andy Fogarty bemoaned "the worst pre-season I've known in 30-odd years", while Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur denied rebuilding works have contributed.
Back in Division Two, Olly Stone stole the show for Warwickshire on his long-delayed championship debut against Sussex.
Stone missed a year through injury after signing for the Bears and showed pace and skill to claim six for 52 at Edgbaston.
Yet time already lost from the game means his eye-catching efforts - none more so than a superb bouncer to remove Luke Wright - will end in a draw.
Sussex will restart on 194 for six in their first innings, responding to Warwickshire's 299.
Gloucestershire moved to the cusp of victory over Kent at Canterbury, with nine wickets in hand and just 47 runs still required.
With a 46-run lead already banked, they dismissed Kent for 153 as rookie Ryan Higgins scooped up five wickets.
Needing 108 to take the win, Benny Howell's unbeaten 34 saw them to 61 for one at stumps.
Hampshire moved into a commanding 242-run lead against Worcestershire on day two of their Specsavers County Championship Division One clash at the Ageas Bowl.
Ben Cox made 65 as the visitors posted 211 in reply to Hampshire's first-innings 290, which had been boosted by James Vince's classy 75 on the opening day of the season.
Hampshire closed on 163 for eight in their second innings, with Tom Fell's run-out of top-scorer Hashim Amla for 36 late in the day keeping the visitors in the contest after skipper Jack Leach took three for 34.
At Emirates Old Trafford Tom Bailey struck three late blows and Joe Mennie took his first two wickets for Lancashire to leave their match against Nottinghamshire evenly poised.
Replying to the home side's 158, in which Jake Ball took five for 43, the visitors were 127 for six at the end of a remarkable third session.
That left Nottinghamshire with a deficit of 31 after a day in which 16 wickets fell after Friday's play was washed out.
Defending champions Essex were again frustrated by the weather as day two of their match with Yorkshire at Headingley was abandoned for the day because of the weather.
In Division Two, Kent were dismissed inside 91 minutes for just 64 runs.
Only a Gareth Roderick half-century saved Gloucestershire from similar ignominy as 18 wickets fell on day two at Canterbury.
When bad light stop played, Gloucestershire had mustered 110 for eight for a slender lead of 46, courtesy of Roderick's top-score of 51.
After the loss of the game's first four sessions, Gloucestershire elected to field after an uncontested toss and left-arm paceman Matt Taylor revelled in ideal bowling conditions to bag four for 20, with Craig Miles grabbing three for 11 as Kent were shot out inside 18.5 overs.
Kent lost their first six wickets inside 10 overs and, in only his sixth first-class game, 20-year-old Zak Crawley top-scored for the hosts with a modest 15.
At Lord's James Harris starred with bat and ball and there was a landmark moment for Tim Murtagh as Middlesex wrestled control from Northamptonshire on a day when 26 wickets fell.
Harris followed a gutsy unbeaten 46 in Middlesex's first-innings 214 all out with remarkable figures of five for nine as Northants were skittled for 71 in reply.
Murtagh took four of those wickets to fall, including his 700th first-class scalp, as the visitors were dismissed in just 21.2 overs.
Bowlers continued to dominate though, and Middlesex were then rushed out for 159 in their second innings - 47 of which came in a 10th-wicket stand between Murtagh and Tom Helm - to leave Northants a target of 303 for victory.
They were nine without loss when an eventful second day came to a close.
Tim Ambrose and Ian Bell scored half-centuries as Warwickshire and Sussex belatedly launched their season at Edgbaston.
When the match finally started, the first four sessions having been lost to the weather, Sussex eagerly took up the option to bowl, with the hosts then going on to reach 284 for nine.
Only Bell (70) and Ambrose (76 not out) managed a significant score against a Sussex attack led by David Wiese (four for 50).
England batsman James Vince started the 2018 Specsavers County Championship campaign with a stylish half-century - but the weather was the real winner on day one of the new season.
Play was possible in only two of the six games, with fewer than 143 overs bowled around the country.
Most of the action came at the Ageas Bowl as Vince made 75 from 74 balls in Hampshire's 290 all out against Worcestershire.
Vince scored 346 runs for England in six Tests during tours of Australia and New Zealand, with questions still lingering over his application at international level.
But he managed to cope with a typical April green-top wicket and thick grey clouds ready to assist the seamers.
Vince had solid support from Jimmy Adams (33) and South African star Hashim Amla (36) as Hampshire posted a decent total in the conditions.
Gareth Berg made an unbeaten 75 down the order, with Worcestershire captain Joe Leach the pick of the visitors' bowling attack with four for 42.
Worcestershire closed on 40 for two with Brett D'Oliveira (one) and Tom Fell (16) falling to the pace of Fidel Edwards and Kyle Abbott.
The only other game to see play was the Division Two clash between Middlesex and Northamptonshire at Lord's.
Middlesex - with club captain Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan both unavailable - slumped to 63 for four before lunch after being invited to bat on a greenish wicket.
Seamers Ben Sanderson and Brett Hutton did the damage by picking up two wickets apiece, but Middlesex rallied to reach 136 for four on a day when only 48.5 overs were possible.
Max Holden, who spent a successful loan period at Northamptonshire last season, fell for eight before debutant Robbie White lost his off stump to Sanderson (two for 30) first ball.
Hutton got in on the act by bowling Hilton Cartwright after the Australian Test batsman had made a brisk 30, while Sam Robson was trapped leg before for 14.
But Middlesex recovered after lunch with John Simpson (31 not out) and Paul Stirling (40 not out) sharing an unbroken stand of 73.
The pair seemed well set when bad light halted play - despite the Lord's floodlights being in use for the first time in a Championship fixture.
No play was possible in the Division One games between Lancashire and Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire and Essex.
Wet outfields also prevented any play in the Division Two games between Kent and Gloucestershire and Warwickshire and Sussex.