Muchall's best leads Durham
The second day at Old Trafford continued to favour the bowlers as Hampshire fought back from being dismissed for 194 by holding Lancashire to 148 or 6. James Bruce struck twice in his first spell, removing Mark Chilton and Mal Loye, then Sean Ervine collected a brace as Hampshire's total began to appear more significant. Iain Sutcliffe and Glen Chapple steadied the innings, adding 54, to leave the match fascinatingly poised. Ervine and Bruce had earlier frustrated Lancashire's efforts to wrap up the tail by adding 41 for the last wicket.
Maybe this will be the season that Gordon Muchall fulfils his undoubted talent. It is a point that has been raised at the start of a few recent campaigns, but he began 2006 in the best possible fashion with a career-best, unbeaten 193. Whether this becomes another false dawn remains to be seen but it enabled Durham to make a commanding start against Kent. They are being tipped to struggle as they try to stay in the top division, follow last season's promotion, but Muchall, along with useful contributions from Phil Mustard and Gary Pratt - who will want this season to be remember for more than just his fielding - showed they certainly won't be pushovers.
Determined batting from the Sussex lower order enabled them to stretch past 300 against Warwickshire at Hove after they'd been in early trouble against Heath Streak. Luke Wright struck an important half-century. For a full report on this match click here.
The defending champions, Nottinghamshire, were forced to kick their heels in the dressing-room as the opening day of their clash against Yorkshire was washed out. However, a notable piece of action did take place as Michael Vaughan had his first serious net since leaving the tour of India. He batted in the indoor nets and also jogged around the Trent Bridge outfield with his Yorkshire team-mates.
Gloucestershire made the most of what play was possible between the showers on the second day at Bristol, with Alex Gidman scoring a century and John Lewis snapping up two Somerset wickets. Gidman's 103 off 169 balls enabled Gloucestershire to push their overnight score of 262 for 4 to a healthy 437. In reply, Matthew Wood and John Francis both fell to the accurate Lewis, but Marcus Trescothick managed to survive in his first major innings of the summer.
Bilal Shafayat and Lance Klusener took the attack to Essex as Northamptonshire enjoyed a productive opening day at Chelmsford. Shafayat cracked an impressive 118 off 290 balls and Klusener made the same score from 130 deliveries. Contrasting innings, but equally valuable. David Sales, the captain, registered 75 as Northants recovered from 31 for 3 after Darren Gough and Andre Adams had caused problems with the new ball.
Derbyshire's opening fixture against Surrey was meant to have been played at Derby, but the ground was underwater, and they will now be delighted it was switched to The Oval. Derbyshire's top order took the honours with Travis Birt falling one run short of a century on Championship debut. Fellow Tasmanian, Michael di Venuto, launched the innings in style with a 56-ball 60 - including 13 fours - then Hassan Adnan struck a composed 88. Azhar Mahmood kept Surrey in the game with four wickets after Mohammad Akram was forced out of the attack, in his fourth over, with a groin strain.