Surrey start with a bang
As the champions Sussex struggled against MCC at Lord's, Surrey, their likely title rivals, made an authoritative start to their season against Oxford UCCE at The Parks. A strong side racked up 452 for 5 with three players scoring hundreds. Mark Ramprakash made 113 before retiring hurt, and two of the younger faces, Scott Newman and James Benning, who were the other centurions. Meanwhile, Lee Daggett took 8 for 94 as Durham's students made life difficult for their professional counterparts at Chester-le-Street. Daggett, 21 and on Lancashire's books, had a previous first-class best of 2 for 95 and with an average of over 100. Today, though, he almost single-handedly restricted Durham to 311, with Andrew Pratt rescuing his side from 129 for 5 with 67. The students closed on 24 for 1 in reply.
Loughborough UCCE also made a decent fist of things, against a Somerset side including Andrew Caddick at Taunton. They reached 257 for 6 with Christopher Nash leading the way. He ended on 54 not out as Caddick finished with figures of 2 for 62.
Elsewhere, though, the university sides struggled. Nadeem Malik took 6 for 41 as Worcestershire blasted out Cardiff UCCE for 118 at New Road. The two Stephens, Peters and Moore, then progressed to 21 not out each as Worcestershire closed on 44 for 0. At Fenner's, Will Jefferson stood out for Essex against Cambridge UCCE with 144, including 19 fours. Jefferson put on 144 with fellow opener Aftab Habib, who scored 54. Ronnie Irani, Essex's captain, put an end to his side's extended net, declaring on 292 for 5. Adrian McCoubrey then struck twice before the close as Cambridge faltered to 19 for 2.
Christopher Taylor and Simon Guy ensured that Craig White's first day as Yorkshire captain went smoothly. They put on 200, with Taylor scoring 150, to help Yorkshire to 401 against Bradford/Leeds UCCE at Headingley. John Blain and Victor Craven then grabbed two wickets apiece as the students lost their way, stumbling to 57 for 5 at stumps. Lucky for them it's not first-class.