Dale Benkenstein and Will Smith added 205 in 49 overs as Durham took a lead of 87 against Sussex at Hove and once again made inroads into the top order. Their partnership rescued Durham from 11 for 4 after Neil McKenzie had gone early in the day and there was precious little else around them. For Smith it was a notable return to the side, his initial first-team outing of the season after replacing Kyle Coetzer, as he brought up his first Championship century for Durham. He made Sussex pay for dropping him on 9 at slip, a simple chance by Carl Hopkinson. Benkenstein is a more familiar rock for Durham and reached his century off 152 balls, in a stand which fell 17 short of equalling the team's fifth-wicket record. Ben and Steve Harmison shared a useful last-wicket stand of 34, pushing Durham to another batting point, then Steve struck early by removing Chris Nash. Harmison also had Michael Yardy dropped at short leg, but Callum Thorp removed Hopkinson to cement Durham's strong position.
Centuries from Justin Langer and Ian Blackwell put Surrey to the sword at Whitgift School and left Somerset well-placed for a important lead. The match was finely balanced when the pair came together at 134 for 4 in reply to Surrey's 326. However, Langer had already been given one life when he was dropped on 0 by Mark Butcher. Blackwell, too, was put down at slip on 76 and reached his hundred, which included three sixes, off 111 balls. Langer took 141 deliveries as Surrey struggled to make an impact following earlier success for Jade Dernbach and Pedro Collins.
Darren Stevens led Kent out of early trouble against Hampshire, as the action finally got under way at The Rose Bowl following a further delay for a wet outfield. Hampshire soon took advantage of winning the toss, reducing Kent to 44 for 3 with Shane Bond and Chris Tremlett both among the wickets. However, Stevens responded with a forthright innings although he had plenty of fortune, dropped three times on 4, 5 and 51 before reaching three figures off 129 balls with a drive off Bond. Martin van Jaarsveld set anchor in the fourth-wicket partnership and their alliance worked wonders for Kent, adding 210, with van Jaarsveld progressing to his first Championship century of the season.
Worcestershire are in a strong position against Essex, holding a lead of 288 after batsmen slowly began to prosper after 17 wickets fell on the first day at New Road. Ben Smith followed his vital 60 yesterday with 71, while Daryl Mitchell - dropped twice before reaching 20 - hit 70 then became Danish Kaneria's second victim. Simon Jones wrapped up Essex's first innings for a measly 116 with his first two balls of the day. It leaves him on a hat-trick in the second innings after he proved too quick for David Masters and Kaneria. Jack Birkenshaw, the pitch liaison officer, cleared the groundstaff of any blame for the previous day's clatter of wickets, agreeing that the dampness was unavoidable given the recent heavy rain.
Chris Taylor's 104 and an incisive early burst from Jon Lewis put Gloucestershire in charge against Warwickshire at Gloucester, but half-centuries from Ian Westwood and Jim Troughton kept the visitors afloat. The fourth-wicket pair added 100 after Warwickshire slipped to 32 for 3 against Lewis and Anthony Ireland. But Westwood was run out by William Porterfield's direct hit shortly before the close. Taylor carried his overnight 72 to a valuable century, while solid lower-order contributions pushed Gloucestershire over 400.
It was another good day for South Africans as Leicestershire took control at Grace Road, where Glamorgan suffered another batting collapse. HD Ackerman's fourth Championship century of the season lifted the home side from a tricky 172 for 5 to an imposing 390. Jason Gillespie made two early breakthroughs, but Ackerman was well supported by Paul Nixon (36) and Jacques du Toit (64). Leicestershire's attack was soon causing problems, especially Dillon du Preez, who claimed three wickets in his opening spell. Jim Allenby's gentle medium-pace was also too much for the middle order and Boeta Dippenaar held three brilliant catches at slip.
Martin van Jaarsveld
Dillon du Preez
England Domestic Season
County Championship Division One
County Championship Division Two