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Hall hauls Northants into contention

David Willey salutes his half century on debut Getty Images

Derbyshire launched their season with a solid but frustrating team performance in which each of the top seven made scores of 24 or more against Essex at Chelmsford, but no-one managed to exceed Dan Redfern's top score of 50. Redfern, three days short of his 19th birthday, played a series of pleasing strokes before edging to James Foster, who had dropped him earlier in the same over. By the close, Graham Wagg had also made it to double-figures with 17 not out, in a healthy total of 306 for 7. For Essex, Ryan ten Doeschate - recently returned from Holland's World Cup Qualifying campaign in South Africa - struck twice, as did Chris Wright.

Andrew Hall's timely 95 from 187 balls rescued Northamptonshire from an unpromising 111 for 5, as he added 163 for the sixth wicket with the debutant David Willey, the son of former England allrounder turned umpire Peter Willey, against Leicestershire at Grace Road. Willey, watched by his father, marked his big occasion with a hard-earned 60 from 148 balls, with seven fours and a six, before becoming Andy Harris's third victim of the day in the final hour, caught at fine leg trying to hook, as Northants closed on 297 for 6. Earlier Harris had helped to skittle the top order, grabbing a brace of lbws after initial breakthroughs from Jim Allenby and Wayne White. But Hall was on hand to prevent a complete meltdown, as he closed in on his first century of the season.

Andre Nel struck with his fifth delivery of the season to remove Craig Spearman for a duck, but Surrey were nevertheless made to work hard for their wickets against Gloucestershire at The Oval. By the close, Gloucestershire had moved along to 321 for 8, a total that might have been even more formidable had it not been for late intercessions from James Benning and Jade Dernbach. Thanks to 90 from Kadeer Ali, and half-centuries from Hamish Marshall, who was dropped on 26 by debutant captain Michael Brown, and Alex Gidman, Gloucestershire had at one stage been 247 for 2. But then Benning removed Ali, ten short of his ton as he missed a leg-side flick, and Gidman in the space of three runs, before Dernbach fizzed through the lower-order with three quick wickets. Gloucestershire had slipped to 283 for 8 before Jon Lewis and Vikram Banerjee rallied their side with an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 38.