Surrey’s title defence got under way with a flourish at The Oval as a succession of their young batsmen gamboled in the spring sunshine in front of watching England chairman of selectors, Ed Smith. Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman put on 75 for the first wicket before three wickets fell for 11 runs. Peter Siddle, on his return to Essex, took two wickets in an over, including Ollie Pope for a solitary boundary.

But then Ryan Patel, steadily, Ben Foakes, prettily, and Will Jacks, with gumption, all passed fifty. Jacks, who hit a 25-ball hundred against Lancashire in March, was off the mark with a six, and continued on the attack until he was bowled by Siddle for 88 – the Australian finishing with four for 82. A late‑afternoon fightback by the bowlers gave Essex something to chew on overnight, but Patel was still there, 70 not out, at the close.

At the Ageas Bowl, Gary Ballance and Joe Root’s serene form for Yorkshire continued. Monday’s unbeaten partnership of 253 against Nottinghamshire segued into another of 182 against Hampshire until Root was bowled by Liam Dawson for 94. For Ballance though, another century, solid and steady, at one of his favourite grounds. His 120 not out guided Yorkshire to 310 for three at the close, with two wickets for Fidel Edwards on a frustrating day for the bowlers under pale blue skies and on a pancake wicket.

Nottinghamshire were bowled out for a frenetic 263 just after tea at Trent Bridge, with Lewis Gregory adding to his haul at Taunton last week with six for 68. There were fifties for Chris Nash and Luke Wood, recalled from a short loan spell at Northamptonshire. Somerset then collapsed to 36 for three, with Marcus Trescothick, James Hildreth and Azhar Ali all out for 10, before Tom Abell and George Bartlett steadied hearts to 74 for three at the close. The superb Stuart Broad took two for 12 off nine overs.

A hundred for 21-year-old Zak Crawley, 72 from Heino Kuhn and an unbeaten maiden half-century from Ollie Robinson steered Kent to a formidable 367 for five against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

In Division Two, Billy Root, Joe’s younger brother, strode onwards where his brother had faltered and finished the day 126 not out on a tough day for Northamptonshire’s bowlers. Root, on his debut for Glamorgan, was joined by another debutant, Marnus Labuschagne, whose 121 made him the fifth Australian to make a century for Glamorgan on his debut. Kiran Carlson also passed three figures just before the close. Glamorgan, last year’s wooden spoonists, had racked up 433 for four.

At Bristol, a career-best 83 from Tom Lace guided Derbyshire to 256 for seven against Gloucestershire.

Worcestershire’s Daryl Mitchell and Hamish Rutherford scored hundreds to put their side in a commanding position against Leicestershire at Grace Road after being put into bat. The relaid pitch batted like a dream and Rutherford, on his Championship debut for the club, was unbeaten on 116 in a total of 348 for four.

Lancashire fought back at Lord’s after a 112-run second-wicket partnership between Nick Gubbins and Stevie Eskinazi put Middlesex in a good position. With the late middle-order and tail then faltering, only an unbeaten 23 from Toby Roland-Jones prevented a complete collapse. There were four wickets for Tom Bailey and three for Jimmy Anderson, whose early dismissal of Sam Robson was his 300th first-class wicket for Lancashire.

Durham, meanwhile, were batting in a parallel universe, trudging to 210 for seven thanks to a late injection of runs from 19-year-old Liam Trevaskis. Cameron Bancroft, captaining Durham for the first time made 33 as Sussex’s Ollie Robinson grabbed three for 49 and Chris Jordan three for 38.


Tanya Aldred at The Oval

The GuardianTramp

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