Derbyshire were at the centre of a swine flu scare but it was Essex who looked out of sorts as Chris Rogers reeled off his second double-century of the season to leave his team in charge of the LV County Championship promotion match at Derby.
Rogers was one of six Derbyshire players feeling ill but he batted brilliantly on a green pitch to score 204 not out, his sixth championship hundred of the summer, after Essex had put the home side in. The captain also passed 2,000 runs for the campaign, sharing century stands with Garry Park and Dan Redfern to take his team to 368 for 3 in a game they have to win to have a chance of going up.
It was an excellent response by Derbyshire who had seamer Tim Groenewald ruled out of the game on Tuesday and then had to send pace bowler Tom Lungley home before the start of play with suspected swine flu. Four other players were also ill but Essex failed to take advantage by bowling poorly in helpful conditions.
Graham Napier beat the bat but the others could not maintain a consistent line and Rogers and Wayne Madsen gave Derbyshire a solid platform with a stand of 61. Chris Wright broke through in the 17th over to have South African Madsen lbw for 16 but Rogers and Park added 121 in 30 overs. Rogers drove Danish Kaneria for his 10th four to reach 50 off 78 balls. Park passed 50 when he drove David Masters for his eighth four but on 57, he edged Wright to first slip.
Essex must have known it was not going to be their day when he edged Masters into his stumps without removing a bail on 134.
The new ball brought an immediate reward when Wright got Redfern to drive away from his body to be caught at gully two short of a half-century and give Essex their first point of the game.
Elsewhere in the promotion race Rob White fell just shy of his first double hundred of the season to rescue Northamptonshire on the first day against Leicestershire at Wantage Road. The 29-year-old has found life tough this season but returned to form just at the right time to lift Northants from 44 for 4 to 465 for 6 after hitting an impressive 193.
White hit his highest score of the season and seventh first-class career hundred off 226 balls including 27 fours and four sixes. He was ably supported by 65 from Riki Wessels and an equally inspiring unbeaten score of 138 from South African Andrew Hall off 153 balls. The Northants pair put on 268 for the sixth wicket with James Benning and AJ Harris both picking up two wickets for Leicestershire.