County Championship round-up: Ervine shines but Strauss and Cook still fail to find their form

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The Independent Online

A dry spring may have yielded a healthy glut of results in the first month of the Championship but it has done nothing for the form of England's two Test captains.

Alastair Cook, who led the side in Bangladesh while Andrew Strauss was taking a sabbatical, fell first ball against Kent at Chelmsford yesterday, leaving the Essex opener with 155 runs from seven first-class innings so far, at an average of 22.14.

Strauss is doing scarcely better. After 11 innings he is averaging 23.81, with one half-century, eight scores of 25 or fewer and an aggregate of 262. He made only 13 at Lord's yesterday, although he insists he is "not overly concerned" by his lack of runs.

On that count, Sean Ervine will feel blissfully unworried after hitting a mammoth career-best 237 not out as Hampshire, after four straight defeats, at last found their feet, against Somerset at the Rose Bowl.

The Zimbabwean hit five sixes and 29 fours in a near six-and-a-half hour epic, surpassing his previous best of 208 scored in his homeland. His ninth-wicket partnership with James Tomlinson, whose 42 was also a career best, added 230.

After Cook's demise, Tom Westley laid the foundations for a recovery, but Essex have much to do to avoid the follow-on after Darren Stevens' century helped Kent to 474.

Centuries for Neil Dexter and Gareth Berg made up for Strauss's failure at Lord's, where Middlesex have a healthy first-innings lead over Derbyshire in the Second Division.

Leicestershire, bowled out for 102 at Bristol, made a better fist of their follow-on, while Jamie Dalrymple's century allowed Glamorgan to take charge against Northamptonshire.