Essex are on the verge of their first County Championship title since 1992 after their innings-and-56-run Specsavers Division One win over struggling Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

The visitors, promoted to the top flight only at the end of last season and victorious well inside three days in Birmingham, cannot celebrate the silverware quite yet until there is confirmation of Lancashire’s failure to win away to Somerset.

That outcome appears a formality, however, after Lancashire reached a highly-vulnerable 247 for eight and a lead of just 45 at stumps on day three – having followed on the previous evening.

Essex resumed needing only to bowl lowly Warwickshire out for under 168 – with a second innings in hand if they still needed it – and then wait on events down the M5 at Taunton to discover whether they would clinch the title with two matches to spare.

Prolific pair Simon Harmer (four for 25) and Jamie Porter (three for 37) helped to ensure Ryan ten Doeschate’s men were never in any danger of having to bat again, sharing 15 wickets in the match as bottom-of-the-table Warwickshire collapsed to 112 all out.

Lancashire fared much better in their second innings, but at the start of play were still 174 runs short of making their hosts bat again.

A painstaking half-century from Haseeb Hameed (62) and then Liam Livingstone’s almost equally stoic 57 – heavily restrained from his attacking instincts – tested the patience of Somerset, and Essex, despite yet more wickets for spin twins Jack Leach (four for 79) and Dom Bess (three for 85).

Third-from-bottom Middlesex and Hampshire were again beset by bad weather at Uxbridge, where no play was possible until after tea. The hosts then did have time to struggle from 76 for three to 162 for seven from 59 overs in all which have so far been possible over three days.

At The Oval, Yorkshire found themselves following on despite a total of 394. Gary Ballance’s men are also still in danger of the drop, and lost regular wickets to the Surrey spinners before then reaching 59 for one second time around to trail by 139 runs.

In Division Two, Worcestershire exposed the frailties of bottom club Leicestershire at New Road as they bid for the victory which will take them above table-toppers Nottinghamshire – who have no fixture in this round.

The hosts had to dig in against slow left-armer Callum Parkinson, who turned his maiden five-wicket haul into figures of eight for 148 but still could not stop Worcestershire reaching 493 all out and a first-innings lead of 89 thanks to opener Brett D’Oliveira’s 138 and a half-century too from wicketkeeper Ben Cox (77).

Worcestershire then put the visitors in big trouble with the new ball second time around, Leicestershire stumbling to 10 for four and eventually 111 for seven.

In the mid-table match at Bristol, three Kent batsmen passed 50 as their team eked out a one-run lead with a total of 386 all out, despite Josh Shaw’s five for 118 – before Gloucestershire moved to 67 for none at stumps, with opener Cameron Bancroft unbeaten again on 25 after his first-innings 206 not out.

Glamorgan reached a second-innings 320 at home to Northamptonshire, wicketkeeper Chris Cooke (69) top-scoring to help set a target of 217 before the visitors closed on 42 for one. Like Northants, Sussex are also still just about in the promotion picture behind the top two but are up against it at home to Derbyshire.

Even without their injured captain Billy Godleman, Derbyshire batted well again second time around as a maiden half-century from Harry Podmore (66no) helped them to 322 for eight and an overall lead of 389, despite Stuart Whittingham’s career-best five for 80.