Smith masters Warwickshire
Will Smith returned to form with a wonderful 153 as Durham dominated the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division One match against fellow high-fliers Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Both teams began the day in joint second place, five points behind leaders Lancashire, but it was Durham who enhanced their title credentials as they reached stumps on an imposing 348 for three.
Former captain Smith, who only regained his place in the side following an injury to Mark Stoneman earlier in the campaign, shared an unbroken stand of 221 for the fourth wicket with the evergreen Dale Benkenstein, who finished the day unbeaten on 90.
Naqaash Tahir, Rikki Clarke and Boyd Rankin picked up a solitary wicket apiece for Warwickshire, who face an uphill task in attempting to get back into the match.
Lancashire were indebted to a patient 96 from Karl Brown as they posted a first-innings total of 328 against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl.
Brown struck 14 fours in his 174-ball innings and put on 100 with Steven Croft to help Lancashire recover from 65 for three.
A further flurry of wickets saw them slip to 228 for seven, but Sajid Mahmood and Kyle Hogg then shared 68 and a third batting point was subsequently secured.
Former Lancashire seamer Dominic Cork was the pick of the Hampshire attack with 4-78, while David Griffiths returned 3-82.
England Lions wicketkeeper-batsman Jonathan Bairstow continued his impressive start to the season with 136 for Yorkshire against Somerset at Taunton.
The visitors were dismissed for 358 shortly before close of play on day one, with a fourth-wicket stand between Bairstow and Gary Ballance, who made 61, proving valuable.
Both men eventually fell to Charl Willoughby, who was one of three Somerset bowlers to finish with three scalps, along with Gemaal Hussain and Steve Kirby.
Marcus Trescothick then safely negotiated the remaining four overs as Somerset ended the day on seven without loss.
Each of the four Division Two games witnessed sizeable centuries, the biggest of which was Alviro Petersen’s for Glamorgan against Surrey.
His unbeaten 178 dominated a close-of-play total of 352 for four as the visitors made excellent use of winning the toss at the Kia Oval.
Michael Powell fell one short of three figures, having added 225 with his captain for the third wicket and helping to put Glamorgan, who sit second in the table, in an enviably strong position.
Leaders Northamptonshire were on the receiving end of a blistering hundred from Andrew McDonald, who smashed 164 off just 140 balls to carry Leicestershire to 313 at Wantage Road.
The Australian all-rounder struck 26 fours and two sixes in a scintillating innings that rescued Leicestershire from 15 for three, but Jack Brooks took 5-80 before Northants reached 32 without loss by the close.
Usman Khawaja marked his final game for Derbyshire with a fine 135, which, allied to Wayne Madsen’s 140, propelled them to 370 for three against Kent at Canterbury.
Khawaja, who has been summoned for Australia A duty, fell in the final over of a day that began with Chesney Hughes making 57.
An unbeaten 136 from Sam Robson - playing his first championship game of the season - was the centrepiece of Middlesex’s 316 for six against Essex at Chelmsford.
That also featured 65 from John Simpson, who became a fifth victim for Graham Napier – the County Championship’s star turn with the bat last week – shortly before the close.