A remarkable unbeaten 261 from Darren Lehmann, made from only 302 balls, powered Yorkshire to 473 for 3 on the first breathless day in the relegation decider against Durham at Headingley. The winner of this match stays in the first division and Yorkshire have raced out of the blocks and can already eye safety. Although in some trouble at 43 for 2, Lehmann was dominant from the outset and brought up his first hundred in just over two hours from just 114 balls. He wasn't finished, though, clobbering 43 fours and two sixes for good measure before the umpires finally called stumps, to end a miserable day for Durham. His innings utterly overshadowed those of Anthony McGrath - whose 79-ball 62 was no less attractive - and Michael Lumb who remained unbeaten on 82.
Two fine hundreds from David Fulton and Matt Walker led for Kent on the first day against Middlesex at Canterbury as the home side reached an impressive 353 for 3. The Middlesex bowling left a lot to be desired - only Chris Silverwood, who took two economical wickets, was any resemblance of a threat - as Fulton, in what is likely to be a farewell appearance for Kent, and Joe Denly, the 20-year-old right-hander, put on 123 for the opening stand. Silverwood finally made the breakthrough, bowling Denly for 66, but Walker and Fulton batted magnificently together to put on 196 for the third wicket.
For a full report of Sussex's key clash against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge click here.
For a full report of Lancashire's crucial match against Hampshire down at The Rose Bowl click here.
A fine 77 from Lee Goddard saved Derbyshire from capitulation on the first day against Surrey at Derby. Goddard came to the crease with his side in deep trouble at 102 for 5, but found excellent support in Graeme Wagg. The pair put on an unbeaten stand of 149 - comfortably the innings' highest - as Derbyshire closed on 273 for 6.
Fifties from Hamish Marshall, Chris Taylor and a particularly aggressive unbeaten 87 from Alex Gidman gave Gloucestershire the honours on the first day against Glamorgan at Cardiff. Both Gloucestershire's openers, Kadeer Ali and Craig Spearman, fell cheaply to leave the middle order shouldering the responsibility - and they did just that. Marshall smacked 11 fours and cleared the boundary twice in his 79, before he was run out. But Taylor (54) and Gidman made good Marshall's work as the visitors closed on 342 for 5.
Alastair Cook celebrated his first England contract with a brilliant 132, salvaging a sinking Essex ship on the first day against Leicestershire at Grace Road and keeping them in control of their own promotion. Mark Pettini and Ravinder Bopara both fell for 11 and, once Andy Flower (5) and Ronnie Irani departed Essex were in danger of collapsing. Enter James Foster, the forgotten England wicketkeeper, who helped stage a superb fight-back with Cook; the pair put on 155. Though Cook fell, Foster (94*) found good support from Ryan ten Doeschate as the visitors closed on 322 for 6. Essex began with a four point advantage over Worcestershire and will be confident of bagging at least four batting bonus points on the second day.
A typically bullish 96 from David Sales was the standout performance for Northamptonshire against Worcestershire on the first day at Northampton. Worcestershire, though, managed three vital bonus points in their push for promotion. The home side's batsmen all made starts, but only Sales and Ben Phillips (75) took advantage. However, in spite of the impressive run-rate, both fell in quick succession and Northants were dismissed for 342 when the umpires called stumps.