Andy Bichel has been useful for Essex in coloured clothing, but his batting performances in the County Championship have been outstanding © Getty Images

Division Two

Andy Bichel's stunning batting form in England continued as he picked up a career-high 148 against Nottinghamshire as Essex dominated in Chelmsford. Before the break for the Twenty20 competition Bichel posted 102 against Middlesex in his opening first-class outing of the season, and in his second appearance he thumped 18 fours and three sixes from 152 balls to help Essex to an intimidating 700 for 9 declared.

Bichel also picked up the first breakthrough as Nottinghamshire reached 191 for 2 in their reply. James Foster's double-century and a 78-ball hundred from Graham Napier had also contributed heavily to Essex's strong position as the team scored at more than six an over during the day. Foster and Bichel extended their seventh-wicket stand to 254 and Napier was the heavy hitter as he and Foster added 195 for the eighth wicket in 26 overs.

Paul Nixon marked his first game as Leicestershire's Championship captain with a vital century as he and HD Ackerman led an impressive fightback against Glamorgan at Grace Road. The pair added 213 for the sixth wicket after three early wickets for James Harris put Leicestershire on the back foot at 88 for 5. Ackerman's second hundred of the summer took 166 balls while Nixon's first came off 128. Mansoor Amjad continued to extend the advantage and by the close it was 111. Harris was the pick of the attack with four wickets, leading the way ahead of his more experienced colleagues.

The Twenty20 fortnight has done nothing to slow Tom Lungley's Championship form as his fine season continued with 5 for 33 to put Derbyshire on top against Middlesex at Southgate. Lungley broke the opening stand by trapping Billy Godleman lbw then wrapped up the innings with four quick wickets as Derbyshire gained a valuable lead of 82. Ed Joyce offered the main resistance with 81, but he was seventh out as Middlesex slipped from 166 for 3. Andrew Strauss, in need of some runs ahead of the Test series against India, reached 38 with some fluent shots before being caught at midwicket off a mistimed pull. An early finish prevented Derbyshire building on their advantage.

Chris Taylor hit an unbeaten 112 to keep Gloucestershire afloat against Northamptonshire at Northampton. The visitors fell to 52 for 5 against the new ball with Johan van der Wath doing the damage before the recovery began. Steve Kirby batted three hours as nightwatchman, but it was a seventh-wicket stand of 102 between Taylor and Steven Adshead which brightened Gloucestershire's day. Taylor took 148 balls over his hundred, but despite his efforts they still conceded a lead of 60 while Monty Panesar wrapped up the innings with three wickets. Northamptonshire steadily extended their lead to 152 during the final session.

Division One

Events at The Oval continued to move along rapidly as 17 wickets fell on the second day to follow 16 on the first. However, a result is still too close to call as Durham began defending 152 with three early Surrey wickets. Steve Harmison ripped into the top order and removed Jon Batty, Mark Ramprakash - victims of sharp lifters - and Scott Newman before bad light ended play. The vital factor could yet be the 52-run lead Surrey managed during the morning session before reducing Durham to 132 for 7 second time around. Four middle-order wickets went for six runs against Chris Schofield and Neil Saker before stubborn efforts from Will Smith (41) and Liam Plunkett (33) gave Durham's attack something to bowl at.

Thunder showers and hailstorms restricted play at The Rose Bowl to 28.4 overs as Warwickshire built a strong total against Hampshire. Darren Maddy could only add two to his overnight score before being caught off Chris Tremlett, but Alex Loudon and Tim Ambrose put on 60 for the fifth-wicket. Hampshire's wicketkeeper Nic Pothas has been ruled out of action for up to three weeks after being hit in the eye when a delivery from Michael Carberry bounced off Jonathan Trott's pad on the first day. His deputy, Tom Burrows, took the catch to remove Maddy.

Two heavy showers put paid to any chance of Lancashire and Yorkshire getting their Roses clash started at Old Trafford. Puddles formed on the outfield and the umpires called play off in early afternoon. The lack of cricket made Darren Gough, Yorkshire's captain, feel he would have Michael Vaughan and Matthew Hoggard available for next week's game against Warwickshire as they searched for match practice ahead of the first Test against India. "The decision was always dependent on how much part they could play in the game here," Gough said, "so both of them will probably be available next week, as far as I'm concerned."

It didn't take long for the inevitable abandonment at New Road as Kent continued to be frustrated by Worcestershire's decision to play at their headquarters. Any hopes of a start vanished when a heavy shower made the outfield like a mud bath. Kent have lodged an official complaint with the ECB and it will look into it urgently.