Tim Bresnan sweeps hard during his maiden first-class century at The Oval © Will Luke
Steve Harmison claimed three wickets as Durham built a commanding 413-run lead over Worcestershire at New Road. He removed Graeme Hick and Roger Sillence with successive deliveries during an 11-over spell which cost just 21 runs, as Durham gained a lead of 122. The advantage was rammed home by Michael di Venuto, who followed his unbeaten 155 with a boundary-filled 83. Twin centuries appeared on the cards before he was trapped lbw by Gareth Batty. Although Batty added Ben Harmison for a duck, Dale Benkenstein and Phil Mustard carried Durham further ahead with a stand of 71.

Tim Bresnan and birthday boy Jason Gillespie broke a 109-year-old record in adding 246 for Yorkshire's ninth wicket against Surrey at The Oval. They broke the county record of 192, set by George Hirst and Schofield Haigh in 1898, finishing with the fifth-highest ninth-wicket stand in first-class cricket. Gillespie's century was his second, following the double he made as nightwatchman for Australia against Bangladesh, while for Bresnan - who took 204 balls - it was the first. Surrey's top order confirmed the pitch was full of runs as Scott Newman stroked his way to 124, adding 196 for the second wicket with Mark Ramprakash. However, there was a late twist in a bat-dominated day as Adil Rashid grabbed four quick wickets in the closing overs - Ali Brown went to a perfect legbreak - to leave Surrey heading towards the follow-on.

Richard Montgomerie batted throughout the second day to ensure Sussex built on their impressive start against Kent with a dominant performance at Hove. His 174 enabled the defending champions to amass an imposing lead of 249. At one stage Kent were threatening to come back into the match, taking 5 for 95 as Sussex led by just 38 with four wickets left. Then Montgomerie was joined by Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and the seventh-wicket pair added 117. Naved-ul-Hasan, better known for swinging the ball, swung his bat to the tune of 75 off 84 deliveries with 10 fours and three sixes. James Kirtley, dropped by Geraint Jones on 20, then provided further unexpected resistance, his unbeaten 51 dominating a stand of 94, to leave Sussex handsomely placed to open their campaign with victory.

Warwickshire continued to dominate at at Edgbaston with Lancashire struggling to stay afloat after a top-order collapse. Alex Loudon reached his first Championship century as the home side ground out a large total, with Heath Streak adding an unbeaten 55. Lancashire's attack toiled, especially Gary Keedy who needed 52 overs for his five wickets. A long stint in the field then took its toll on the early batsmen, Lancashire slipping to 23 for 3. Streak took two in his first spell and Dale Steyn began his Warwickshire career with a brace, including the prized scalp of Stuart Law who dragged on. Paul Horton, who gained his place on the strength of an impressive pre-season, repaid the faith shown in him with a fighting half-century. It could have been worse for Lancashire as Luke Sutton was dropped twice before the close.

Billy Godleman sweeps during his impressive Championship debut © Getty Images
Somerset spent the winter trying to make Taunton more bowler friendly - the early signs are it hasn't worked. Eighteen-year-old Billy Godleman marked his Championship debut with his maiden first-class century and David Nash his first since 2003 in the Championship as Middlesex reached 600 for 4. An unbeaten fifth-wicket stand of 193 followed after Owais Shah had fallen seven short of a double century. Godleman took 172 balls over a ton which confirmed the huge talent that has many Middlesex supporters very excited. But the home side weren't left behind in the run-scoring stakes. Marcus Trescothick's first serious knock of the summer brought an 87-ball 70 and his half-century came off 44 balls with four consecutive boundaries off Tim Murtagh. He was caught at short leg off Murali Kartik, but the other half of Somerset's top-order powerhouse, Justin Langer, was in sight of a century by the close.

Essex rode their luck at Chelmsford as Alastair Cook's 100 led a promising reply after Derbyshire piled up 551. Cook followed his 142 for MCC at Lord's last week with a chancy knock, dropped in the slips on 23 and by Hassan Adnan, at short leg, on 65. When Cook was trapped lbw by Kevin Dean - who claimed all three wickets - Ronnie Irani, also dropped on 17 and 49, took over and guided Essex towards the close without further loss. Earlier it had been the bat of Jamie Pipe which stood out, as he moved from his overnight 69 to 133. He added 97 with Graham Wagg as Derbyshire laid down an impressive marker for the season by reaching 551. As is often the case, Danish Kaneria's five wickets took a long time - 52 overs of hard work.

Jason Gallian's 150 put Nottinghamshire in control against Leicestershire at Trent Bridge and David Hussey's 105 meant there was nowhere to hide for Leicestershire's weak attack. Gallian added 176 with Mark Wagh, who made a winter move from Warwickshire, and reached three figures off 181 balls. Gallian has twice been run out on 199, but this time didn't get quite so close before he was caught behind of David Masters against the new ball. Hussey, though, was well into his stride and brought up his hundred with a fine straight six off Claude Henderson only to cut limply to point next ball.