Lancashire labour to Rayner and Lewry
Lancashire laboured to 206 all out on the first day against Sussex at Old Trafford, yet this represented an useful comeback after the hosts floundered at 90 for 5. Jason Lewry did the early damage: Lou Vincent dragged one on for nought while Iain Sutcliffe was also bowled by a cracking delivery which held its line on off stump. Stuart Law hung around for 52 balls for his 9 before edging a good-length delivery from Luke Wright to the wicketkeeper. However, Lancashire weren't done just yet and fought back impressively through Steven Croft (46 from 87) and Francois du Plessis who put on 59 for the fifth wicket. Ollie Rayner removed du Plessis and Croft fell 10 overs later, smartly held by Chris Adams at first slip, but Luke Sutton (45*) and Dominic Cork at least ensured Lancashire reached the lofty heights of 200, with a patient stand of 53. Rayner mopped up the tail with 5 for 65, his third five-wicket haul, and Sussex were 9 without loss at stumps.
England's one-Test wonder, Darren Pattinson, ran through Somerset with 5 for 40 on the first day of their match against Nottinghamshire at Taunton, traditionally a batting paradise. In reply, however, Nottinghamshire had lost six wickets of their own but had gained a vital first-innings lead of 79. Nottinghamshire made crucial early inroads, with Charlie Shreck trapping Justin Langer leg-before while Pattinson picked up Marcus Trescothick's wicket. When Ian Blackwell fell for 1, Somerset had fallen to 25 for 5, prompting a salvaging act from their lower-order. Craig Kieswetter began proceedings with a brisk 18, while Steffan Jones stroked 27 from 45. Somerset were blown away for 106 in 39.1 overs. Yet Nottinghamshire struggled too, as Andy Caddick removed Matthew Wood for a duck, but Bilal Shafayat (25) and Mark Wagh (46) steadied their reply with a stand of 65. Samit Patel stood out for the visitors, celebrating his call-up to England's one-day squad, with a fine 56 from 80 balls as Nottinghamshire went to stumps with a lead of 79, though with only four first-innings wickets remaining.
Sixteen wickets tumbled at Taunton and another 15 crashed at Chester-le-Street between Durham and Kent, as the visitors closed on 43 for 5 in reply to 146. Durham trail the Division One leaders, Nottinghamshire, by 10 points but have a match in hand, and they began solidly today with an opening stand of 58 between Michael di Venuto and Mark Stoneman. Ryan McLaren struggled in his opening spell, so the onus fell on Robbie Joseph to make the breakthrough, removing the openers, before Amjad Khan put Durham onto the back foot with the wickets of Shivnarine Chanderpaul (edging to second slip) and Dale Benkenstein (inside edge onto his stumps) in quick succession. Liam Plunkett led a brief revival with a punchy 21 from 39, but Martin Saggers found immense swing to clean up a brittle tail with 4 for 26, the hosts skittled for just 146. Kent suffered the same difficulties as Durham, losing Rob Key (4), Joe Denly (21) and Neil Dexter (1) with 26 on the board. When Mark Davies picked up his third wicket, that of the nightwatchman Saggers, Kent were limping on 43 for 5 and trail by 103 going into the second day.
Jacques Rudolph rescued Yorkshire with a solid 83 on the first day against Hampshire at The Rose Bowl. Rain delayed the start by two hours and, when play got underway, Chris Tremlett's snorting fifth delivery removed Andrew Gale while Anthony McGrath was struck plumb in front. Chris Taylor didn't last long, edging James Tomlinson - who swung the ball prodigiously - to a diving Nic Pothas, while Adam Lyth drove a limp return catch to Dimitri Mascarenhas. However, at 82 for 4, Yorkshire's South African dug deep to salvage the innings while his team-mates came and went in a procession. Cautious and steady throughout, he was nevertheless alert to scoring opportunities and stroked 12 fours. Crucially, he found support in David Wainwright whose 65-ball 18 might have lacked fluency but at least provided solidity. At stumps Rudolph, who was dropped on 78, was unbeaten on 83.
Graeme Hick crashed his 136th first-class hundred to lead a dominant Worcestershire performance on the first day against Derbyshire at New Road. Hick, who turned 42 in May, made 149 from just 151 balls - his highest score for two years - and shared in partnerships of 184 with Ben Smith (76) and 123 with Steve Davies (71) during Worcestershire's 450 for 8 declared. They raced along in the first session, smacking 118 runs in boundaries alone, as Vikram Solanki became the first to notch 1000 Championship runs in the season. Derbyshire's bowlers leaked 45 extras in a disappointing display, with seven no-balls from Graham Wagg, and Dan Birch should have held Hick at midwicket on 74. Hick was relentless before he fell to a rare loose shot, lofting to Charl Langeveldt at long-off.
A fine 104 from Marcus North put Gloucestershire in a good position on the opening day against Leicestershire at Cheltenham. No play was possible in the first session and Leicestershire were soon in business when William Porterfield, who returned from Ireland duty, nudged a leg-side delivery behind to Paul Nixon. And though Kabir Ali looked in excellent touch, he edged Dillon du Preez to Boeta Dippenaar at second slip to leave Gloucestershire tottering. However, North bristled with confidence - particularly against Claude Henderson - and found a useful ally in Hamish Marshall, with whom he put on 167 in 46 overs. North ought to have been held on 52 when Joshua Cobb fluffed a running catch at mid-off and, in spite of reaching the nineties three times this summer, he finally notched three figures from 142 balls. It was his first ton for 14 months, and the relief told when he slapped one straight to mid-off. Marshall, who made a patient 70, also fell to Jim Allenby but Gloucestershire - who are still seeking their first Championship win of the season - are reasonably placed at 256 for 5.
A superb, rearguard 103 from Jamie Dalrymple hoisted Glamorgan out of the depths against his former county, Middlesex, on the opening day at Colwyn Bay. Glamorgan were put in and soon slipped to 53 for 5 as Middlesex's seamers took advantage of helpful bowling conditions. Tim Murtagh had Richard Grant edging behind while David Hemp was held neatly at third slip by Ed Joyce off the impressively disciplined Alan Richardson. When Tom Maynard offered no shot to Danny Evans, Glamorgan were 53 for 5 and going nowhere. Enter Dalrymple. He put on 56 with Mark Wallace and, after another rain delay, a further 66 with Dean Cosker (39 from 62) to irritate Middlesex. Nurturing the tail brilliantly, he put on 145 for the last three wickets to notch his first hundred in three years as Glamorgan went to stumps on 258 for 9.