Ravi Bopara and Ben Foakes struck half-centuries as England captain Alastair Cook returned to action for Essex against Cambridge MCCU.
The hosts elected to field, allowing Cook to spend just over two valuable hours at the crease.
He added 35 alongside Jaik Mickleburgh for the first wicket before the latter was bowled for 25 by seamer Alasdair Pollock, who had figures of 3-50 when Essex closed on 249 for six.
Cook was trapped lbw by the same bowler having struck seven fours on his way to 39 and Tom Westley followed in identical fashion for six fewer runs.
Essex were wobbling on 118 for four when Greg Smith departed but that brought together Bopara and Foakes, the duo scoring a combined 129 in a shade under 30 overs.
Ben Foakes reaches his 50 from 71 balls, striking 10 boundaries (all fours) on the way. Essex 230-4
— Essex Cricket (@EssexCricket) April 7, 2014
Foakes had 65 of those before becoming the latest batsman dismissed leg-before, this time to Adil Arif, and his fellow gloveman James Foster bagged a duck to leave Bopara unbeaten on 69 alongside Graham Napier at stumps.
While the action at Fenner's was occasionally affected by the weather, rain decimated the remainder of today’s MCCU v County programme.
Marcus Trescothick reached 10 as Somerset made 16 without loss from six overs having been asked to bat by Leeds/Bradford MCCU at Taunton.
Those were six more overs than would be possible elsewhere.
Warwickshire travelled to face Oxford MCCU and will hope to begin the action tomorrow.
— Cricket In The Parks (@OxfUnisCricket) April 7, 2014
News was no better for counties on home turf as Kent, Gloucestershire and Durham all failed to get under way against Loughborough MCCU, Cardiff MCCU and Durham MCCU respectively.