Ealham puts Kent on the back foot
Mark Ealham put his former county to the sword as Nottinghamshire built a lead of 272 against Kent at Canterbury. When Darren Stevens claimed his fourth wicket the visitors were 219 for 7 and the advantage looked like being held to manageable proportions. However, Ealham added 87 with Paul Franks and 93 with Darren Pattinson, who followed his five wickets on the opening day with a sturdy 33. Ealham's century took 196 balls - he survived a stumping chance on 99 off James Tredwell - before Chris Read declared in his first match as captain. Kent survived 10 overs before the close but face a tough task to salvage something from the match.
Worcestershire had to do without Simon Jones on the second day against Warwickshire at Edgbaston - he was suffering from a stiff neck - but that did not prevent them from polishing off the home side for 215 and then extending their lead to 184 after closing 150 for 2. Gareth Andrew grabbed three wickets in seven balls to help Worcestershire to a first-innings lead of 34, and then half-centuries from Stephen Moore (66) and Vikram Solanki (75*) in a second-wicket stand of 141 added to Warwickshire's poor day.
Ravi Bopara and Jason Gallian, two players at opposite ends of the career spectrum, pounded Northamptonshire with an unbroken stand of 266 as Essex took control at Chelmsford. The early stages of the season are an important time for Bopara as he tries to re-establish his credentials following a troubled winter with England. He brought up his century from 164 balls, following his three wickets yesterday in what is becoming an impressive all-round game. Gallian is one of county cricket's long-serving members and is starting life at his third county following lengthy spells at Lancashire and Nottinghamshire. His hundred was a more sedate affair, taking 220 balls, but helped his new side take a strong hold on the match.
At Bristol, Derbyshire's batsmen showed much more fight after their first-innings capitulation, but they still face a tough task to avoid defeat after closing on 235 for 4, a lead of 45. It took Derbyshire almost all morning to take the last four Gloucestershire wickets, by which time the home side's first-innings lead had grown to 190. Derbyshire were wobbling on 67 for 2, but Chris Rogers and Dominic Telo (65) put on 129 for the third wicket to erase the deficit, Rogers bringing up his hundred off 155 balls. Marcus North removed Telo, driving at a wide one, and then held a sharp caught-and-bowled chance to end Rogers' innings.
Tom New's maiden Championship hundred helped Leicestershire reach 246 for 1 in reply to Middlesex's 312 on a bitterly cold day at Grace Road. It was Leicestershire's day from the off as they took the remaining five Middlesex wickets for 48 - the visitors lost eight for 72 - and then New and 22-year-old Matt Boyce added 143 for the first wicket. Steve Finn removed Boyce for 69 soon after tea but HD Ackerman took to the bowlers. He was 63 at the close with New, who brought up his century off 228 balls shortly before the end of the day, on 104.