Hildreth hits the heights to put Somerset in command

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The Independent Online

James Hildreth, long considered a hot England prospect, upstaged Ian Bell's century at Taunton as Somerset responded strongly after being taken for 500 by Warwickshire in the County Championship's First Division.

At 24, Hildreth has been talked about as a Test batsman in the making ever since he began representing young England teams through his teens. His captain at Somerset, the former Australia opener Justin Langer, describes him as "an extraordinary talent". No wonder, really, given what he did yesterday.

Hildreth was 191 not out by the close, having dominated Somerset's 454 for 4 and gone past Bell's score of 172, by hitting two sixes and 24 fours during an innings spanning just 228 balls.

In the Second Division, Ian Hunter was the star at Chelmsford as Derbyshire, having made 326, rolled over Essex for 194. The 29-year-old took a career-best 5 for 46 – not bad for a bowler with only six Championship wickets last term. Of Hunter's victims four came from the top six, including James Foster who top scored with 40.

Wickets also tumbled at Grace Road, once the weather improved after Thursday's wash-out and Andrew Hall had finished compiling his century for Northants. Stuck on 95 since Wednesday, the South African all-rounder finished unbeaten on 124 out of the visitors' 387 all out. Then another former Proteas international jumped on to centre stage. Johannes van der Wath, of Newcastle – Natal, that is – grabbed three early wickets as Leicestershire lurched into trouble. The hosts were 19 for 5 and it needed a gutsy effort from Paul Nixon to prevent humiliation. Nixon went on 31, however, and Leicestershire were seven down by the time they reached 102.