Rudolph stands tall on a day of wickets
Canterbury is one of two grounds to interest the ECB pitch inspectors after 16 wickets fell in Kent's game against Hampshire. But Tony Pigott, the pitch liaison officer, said he was happy with the surface. Robert Key's decision to bat came unstuck as they were bowled out for 199, thanks largely to their last two wickets adding 70, with Joe Denly standing almost alone in making 115 not out. He was the first Kent batsman to carry his bat in four years, and it was a superb knock, although he had given a chance to mid-off on 12. Hampshire's Australian pair of Stuart Clark (4 for 48) and Shane Warne (3 for 42) did most of the damage. But Yasir Arafat (3 for 44) and Simon Cook (2 for 20) pegged Hampshire back equally effectively as they closed on 124 for 6, still 75 in arrears.
Leaders Nottinghamshire had a good day against Essex at Chelmsford, but it could have been so much better. Stephen Fleming stuck Essex in and reduced them to 94 for 6 before James Middlebrook (85) and Danish Kaneria (65, a career-best) came to the rescue. Middlebrook added 103 for the seventh wicket with Graham Napier (40) and 89 for the eighth with Kaneria. Mark Footitt did most of the damage with 5 for 59. In reply to Essex's 317, Notts lost Jason Gallian to the fourth ball of the innings but closed on 106 for 1.
The other pitch to attract ECB interest was at Swansea where 21 wickets tumbled as bottom side Glamorgan fell apart against Middlesex on a damp surface. Stuck in to bat, Glamorgan did not even make it through to lunch as they were shot out for 60, Alan Richardson leading the destruction with 4 for 7. Middlesex also struggled with Ed Joyce's 58 the only half-century of the day - although eight of their side made double figures - as they reached 221. Richardson took his fifth wicket in the three overs Glamorgan faced before the close, Jimmy Maher falling for single figures for the second time in the day.
From one extreme to the other at Taunton, that batsman's paradise, as Somerset closed on 412 for 6 in the West Country derby against Gloucestershire. For once it wasn't Justin Langer or Marcus Trescothick who cashed in - both fell relatively cheaply as Somerset slid to 65 for 3 - but Cameron White. He smashed 28 fours and one six in his 201 not out. Another firm of pitch consultants will be hired by Somerset to try once more to lessen the advantage to the batsmen.
The wheels came off for third-placed Derbyshire against Northamptonshire at Northampton as they were bowled out for 160, and only 53 not out from Ant Botha saved them from a far lower score. It looked a different game when Northants batted, and they lost only one wicket - Davey Jacobs for 56, his first Championship fifty - in reaching 123 for 1 at stumps.