Run-scoring dominated a day of April sunshine in the County Championship as England batsmen Ollie Pope, with a double century, captain Joe Root and Adam Lyth all reached three figures.
Pope’s Surrey team-mate Jamie Smith and Lancashire stalwart Steven Croft hit tons too.
But they were all upstaged by a young Welshman, Glamorgan’s Kiran Carlson, who hit his second century of the match against Sussex – a total of 256 runs and yet to be removed.
Pope’s 245 in Surrey’s massive 672-8 declared against Leicestershire at The Oval may be a match-winner. The same is likely to apply for Yorkshire pair Root and Lyth against Kent at Canterbury.
But, despite knocks of 127 not out and 129 not out, all 22-year-old Carlson has done is hold up Sussex.
Glamorgan go into the final day just 62 ahead with five wickets remaining – and unless Carlson can keep up his heroics a little longer, cruelly, he looks likely to end on the losing side.
An intriguing double finale is on the cards in Group One if Nottinghamshire win and Essex lose.
Notts are on course to end a near three-year wait for a Championship win after building a big lead over Warwickshire, who they then reduced to 85-3 by the close at Trent Bridge, chasing 333 to win.
The hosts’ hopes are further boosted by the likely absence of Bears and England opener Dom Sibley with a fractured finger.
Their last red-ball win was back in June 2018 when they beat Essex at Chelmsford – and bizarrely, in the 1,029 days since, Essex have not lost either.
Essex’s game with Durham is beautifully balanced. Set 168 to win, Durham quickly slumped to 0-2, losing Will Young first ball, then Alex Lees eight balls later.
It took six overs to get their first run, but they had reached 60-3 by stumps, needing another 108 and with Simon Harmer so far wicketless after a first-innings ‘five-fer’.
Worcestershire were finally all out for 305 at Derby – 85 behind on first innings. Matt Critchley, having so far hit a century and taken five wickets, starred again with 84 to help Derbyshire earn a 353-run lead,
Surrey batsman Pope, 92 overnight, made 245 – his highest Championship score, bettered only by his 251 against the MCC in the champion county game in Dubai in March 2019.
Fellow centurion Smith also got a ton that day and the pair were at it again, in a 234-run fifth-wicket stand as Pope completed the Championship’s third double century of 2021 – the highest score in English red-ball county cricket since Lancashire’s Dane Vilas made 266 against Glamorgan at Colwyn Bay in 2010.
Leicestershire, who made 375 themselves, ended up 297 behind on first innings, but closed undaunted on 21-0.
Hampshire remain on course for two wins from two, having set Middlesex an unlikely 531 to win at Southampton.
The visitors have so far made a game effort, closing on 208-4, needing another 323.
But Gloucestershire need only 125 more to beat Somerset and complete a first West Country derby win at Taunton since 1993.
The teams looked well matched on first innings, Gloucestershire on 309, replying to the 312 posted by the hosts.
But Ryan Higgins then took 4-29 to help bowl out Somerset for 149. Chasing 153, the visitors closed on 28-1.
Carlson, meanwhile, became only the first homegrown player to score two centuries for Glamorgan in 16 years,
But his second ton of the game against Sussex in Cardiff still appears in vain, having earned only a small lead.
Northamptonshire need a further 366 runs to beat Lancashire at Old Trafford – and they did not end the day too well when Saqib Mahmood struck twice to reduce them to 59-3.
Earlier, 36-year-old Croft had finished on 103 not out – the former skipper’s first Championship century in four years – after the hosts declared on 296-7.
There was a declaration too by Yorkshire who came in on 330-5 against Kent after centuries for Lyth, Root and a fifty for Harry Brook.
That set the hosts 445 to win and already they are 33-2, including the wicket of England’s Zak Crawley.