Captain George Thurstance and Matt Taylor rescued Bedfordshire with a county record sixth wicket partnership of 214 on the opening day of their National Counties Championship Eastern Division One match against Staffordshire at Dunstable.
Bedfordshire, who were promoted last season, were in trouble at 82 for five when Thurstance and Taylor came together and rebuilt the innings, taking them to 296 for five at the end of 90 overs with an unbroken stand.
Their partnership surpassed the 208 that Andy Roberts and Lee Pollard added for Bedfordshire’s sixth wicket against Lincolnshire at Bedford Modern School in 2005.
Taylor made 117, his sixth Championship century, and Taylor 105, his second in the competition, as Staffordshire went wicketless in the last 53 overs of Bedfordshire’s first innings.
Leicestershire seamer Alex Evans, back playing for the county where his career began, then dismissed Staffordshire openers Tom Moulton and Alex Mellor in the space of three balls.
Jack Fuller also took two wickets to leave Staffordshire on 62 for four and with work to do.
Jack Timby and Tom Keast made valuable half-centuries to give Lincolnshire the advantage against Suffolk at Bury St Edmunds.
Suffolk were dismissed for 222, an innings that included five scores of 20 or more but only one of 40 – from Ben Parker (47).
Timby responded with 50 from 49 balls and Keast 50 from as Lincolnshire ended the day on for 150 for five.
Off-spinner Max Mannering took five wickets for defending champions Oxfordshire to help dismiss Cheshire for 246 at Alderley Edge.
Captain Rob Sehmi continued his excellent start to the season with 91 for Cheshire but Mannering kept them in check with his second five wicket haul in the competition.
Oxfordshire left-hander Jamie Harrison made a brisk half century and shared a second wicket partnership of 80 with Freddie Smith but the pair fell in successive overs as Cheshire fought back in the evening session.
Rain wiped out most of the morning session at Eastnor where Dorset made against Herefordshire, who won Western Division Two last season.
Former Somerset batter Sam Young (56) and Alex Eckland (65) shared a fifth wicket partnership of 89 which helped Dorset regroup after a testing opening spell from the experienced David Ball and two wickets on Championship debut from Jasper Davidson.
Eckland and Harry Fisher (58) then added 58 for the sixth wicket which helped to lift Dorset to 315 for nine in their 90 overs.
Davidson finished with four for 62 and Ball three for 78 from 23 overs.
Cambridgeshire were shot out for 72, the day’s lowest total, by Hertfordshire on an eventful opening day in Eastern Division Two at March.
An excellent team bowling performance, head by three wickets from seamer Alex Gosling on his Championship debut, kept Cambridgeshire under pressure and only Peterborough Town all-rounder Danny Mohammed (23) made double figures.
Hertfordshire lost three wickets in overtaking Cambridgeshire’s meagre total with debutant Arjun Patel impressing with 43 from 78 balls.
When Hertfordshire were 132 for six it appeared that Cambridgeshire were back in the game but Ed Wharton, with his maiden Championship half century, and Cole Seggery added 95 in an unbroken seventh wicket stand which stretched the lead to 155.
Bowlers also dominated at Tynemouth where Cumbria slow left-armer Matt Siddall took a Championship-best six for 60 against Northumberland on his first appearance in the competition for three years.
Fin McCreath held Northumberland together with a dogged 57 not out in three-and-a-half hours supported by Dale Shaw (47) but the last seven wickets went down for 54.
Cumbria were quickly in trouble at 15 for three, with Matt Oswell claiming all the wickets, before Sam Dutton (57) and Matt Sempill (46) steadied the ship with a fourth wicket partnership of 75.
Cumbria ended the day 23 runs behind with four wickets in hand.
Wales NC’s experienced batter Brad Wadlan marked his first Championship appearance in four years with a century against Devon at Abergavenny.
Wadlan’s century was the ninth of his career in the competition and he shared a seventh wicket partnership of 83 with Josef Davies, who made 54 from 51 balls on his debut.
Acting captain Calum Haggett took four for 42 for Devon who ended the day handily-placed on 141 for three with 19-year-old opener Adam Small unbeaten on 89.
Small’s previous seven innings in the competition had produced just 62 runs but he ended the day with a maiden half century for Devon having struck 17 fours in a 132-ball innings.
Shropshire’s three-day captain Sam Whitney took his Championship-best figures of five for 38 on an even day againstWiltshire at Corsham.
Jake Goodwin, with his Championship-best 97, resisted Whitney’s leg spin and helped to steer Wiltshire to 223 all out.
Former Herefordshire opener David Exall made 31 on his Shropshire debut and in his first innings in the competition for six years.
But Shropshire were in trouble at 89 for five before David Laird (48 not out) and Ben Lees took them to 147 for five at the close.
National Counties Championship (First day of three)
Eastern Division One
Dunstable: Bedfordshire 296-5 (George Thurstance 117 not out, Matt Taylor 105 not out), Staffordshire 62-4.
Bury St Edmunds: Suffolk 222, Lincolnshire 150-5 (Jack Timby 50, Tom Keast 50).
Western Division One
Eastnor: Dorset 315-9 (Alex Eckland 65, Harry Fisher 58, Sam Young 56) v Herefordshire
Alderley Edge: Cheshire 246 (Rob Sehmi 91, Max Mannering 6-67), Oxfordshire 132-5 (Jamie Harrison 51).
Eastern Division Two
Tynemouth: Northumberland 177 (Fin McCreath 57 not out, Matt Siddall 6-60), Cumbria 154-6 (Sam Dutton 57).
March: Cambridgeshire 72, Hertfordshire 227-6 (Ed Wharton 53 not out).
Western Division Two
Abergavenny: Wales NC 255 (Brad Wadlan 100, Josef Davies 54), Devon 141-3 (Adam Small 89 not out).
Corsham: Wiltshire 223 (Jake Goodwin 97, Sam Whitney 5-38), Shropshire 147-5.