Surrey and Leicestershire flayed
Phil Jaques and Stephen Moore combined for an opening stand of 234, and Vikram Solanki also hit a hundred, as Surrey's woes continued on a tough first day against Worcestershire at New Road. Jaques was in typically belligerent form, bringing up his ton off 126 balls, and his innings eventually included 17 fours and two sixes when he was caught behind off Matthew Nicholson. But Surrey's bowlers continued to toil with Moore crossing to a hundred for the first time this season before being stumped off Ian Salisbury. Although Salisbury provided the breakthrough it was an unproductive day for the spinners with he and Chris Schofield going for 165 off 44 overs. With the openers having done their job, Solanki reached three figures shortly before the close and Surrey had another day to forget.
Mark Chilton struck his first century of the season as Lancashire fought back from a poor start during a closely contested encounter with Durham at Chester-le-Street. Chilton's 115 was vital for Lancashire after they'd slipped to 63 for 3 - with Brad Hodge out for 1 - following their decision to bat first. The recovery began slowly, but Chilton's fourth-wicket stand of 140 alongside Stuart Law built during the afternoon until, with Law - dropped on 5 by Will Smith - appearing set for another large score, he fell to Ottis Gibson for 60. Chilton, though, went to his hundred from 185 balls before being stumped off the last ball before tea. Luke Sutton and Glen Chapple pushed their side closer to 300 during the evening session, while former New Zealand offspinner Paul Wiseman collected his second wicket. Bad light ended player 14 overs early.
Centuries from Joe Sayers and Anthony McGrath made it a tough day for Kent as Yorkshire built a strong first-innings position at Tunbridge Wells. The pair added 204 for the second wicket with Sayers hitting his third Championship ton of a fruitful campaign and McGrath his first to follow his fine one-day form. McGrath was marginally faster to three figures, 220 balls to Sayers' 233, but was trapped by Andrew Hall three balls after reaching the landmark. Sayers remained unbeaten through to the close and, despite a failure for Younis Khan, Yorkshire are ideally placed to push onto a monstrous total.
Sussex failed to make the most of a solid start against Hampshire at Arundel although Mushtaq Ahmed's late fifty redressed the balance somewhat. Chris Nash and Richard Montgomerie laid a foundation of 105, but Shane Warne and Chris Tremlett shared the top four wickets as Sussex slipped to 130 for 4. Chris Adams (52) and Andrew Hodd (28) added 77 then another four wickets fell for 26 after Shaun Udal removed Adams. However, Mushtaq brought out the long handle and swung a 43-ball 54, adding 69 with Luke Wright, to edge Sussex over 300. He fell to the final ball of the day, bowled by Stuart Clark for his first scalp, while the bowling honours went to Warne and Tremlett.
Seventeen-year-old James Harris has already produced the goods with the ball this season, now he as shown his ability with the bat becoming the youngest Glamorgan player to score a Championship half-century. His unbeaten 87, alongside a stand of 185 with Robert Croft, who made 115, meant Glamorgan reached the heights of 429 after being 193 for 8 on the first day against Nottinghamshire at Swansea. Croft's hundred, his seventh in 341 first-class matches, took 158 balls but it wouldn't have been possible without Harris's support. He faced 224 balls and was not all defense, either, striking 11 boundaries before Dean Cosker fell for 30 to leave him 13 short of a memorable century. Nottinghamshire were strongly placed in reply at 143 for 1, but Cosker nipped out Jason Gallian (78) and, crucially, Stephen Fleming for eight via a brilliant catch at slip. However, the final say went to Harris as he trapped Mark Wagh lbw and removed Chris Read with the last ball of the day.
Derbyshire continued to control their clash against Gloucestershire at Derby after declaring on 500 for 9 and taking five wickets. Ant Botha built on Steve Stubbings' opening-day century, adding 93 with Greg Smith and 85 with James Pipe, but was run out two short of his ton. When Simon Katich eventually ended the innings, after 157 overs, his bowlers set about making full use of the total under their belts. From 83 for 1 Gloucestershire slumped to 120 for 5 as Tom Lungley took three wickets, including Chris Taylor for a third-ball duck.
Ronnie Irani's runs will be sorely missed by Essex, but in Ravi Bopara they have a run-machine of the present and future, or at least until England take him away. He hit his second consecutive Championship ton to give Essex the honours against Northamptonshire at Chelmsford on the day Irani announced his retirement. Bopara was dropped twice, on 0 and 90, before reaching his hundred, with a powerful cut, off 182 balls. His knock included a six over long on and he ended the day four short of his career-best. He added 116 for the second wicket with Varun Chopra, a stand broken by a sharp catch from Stephen Peters, a former Essex player, at slip off Jason Brown. Grant Flower then provided solid support, in an unbroken third-wicket stand of 182, as the home side accumulated steadily.
Somerset overwhelmed Leicestershire on the opening day at Taunton, racing into a lead of 189 after skittling the visitors for 168. Steffan Jones grabbed 6 for 61, ripping through Leicestershire's middle order. The paltry effort was put into stark perspective when Marcus Trescothick and Neil Edwards sped past the total shortly after tea and both went onto post centuries. Edwards' came first, off 114 balls, followed by Trescothick's second of the season and he had time to pass 150 before the close. Somerset screamed along at nearly six-an-over and Stuart Broad, who conceded 84 off 12 overs, will be wondering if he timed his return from injury correctly.