As a South African enjoying himself on a cricket field yesterday, Jacques Rudolph may well have found himself in a class of one. Rudolph gave up Test cricket to play for Yorkshire and his undefeated century helped them enjoy a rewarding day – on the field at least – against Kent at Canterbury in the First Division.
The county do not have their troubles to seek at present – they announced yesterday that they are to appeal against being thrown out of the Twenty20 Cup for fielding an ineligible player – but a day one total of 359 for 5 provided an element of relief. Rudolph, 27, who four years ago was part of the South African side that won by an innings at Lord's and played his last Test two years ago, and Anthony McGrath put on 217 for the third wicket before the latter fell to Martin Saggers for 144. It was a first century of the season for McGrath, who is captaining Yorkshire in Darren Gough's absence.
Three late wickets took some of the gloss of Yorkshire's day, but Rudolph, who was dropped by Geraint Jones when on 66 and 96, remained to the end, finishing unbeaten on 121 from 199 balls.
In the Second Division, second-placed Middlesex struggled on the opening day against Gloucestershire, losing their top four for 64 when play begun belatedly after tea.
Only 33.5 overs were possible during which Jon Lewis took two wickets, while Owais Shah missed out on the opportunity to press his Test case, caught behind off the former Zimbabwe all-rounder, Anthony Ireland, for just 15. Eoin Morgan saw the visitors through to the close without further loss.
Chris Rogers' half-century helped Derbyshire recover from a poor start against Leicestershire. The home side were in trouble on 15 for 2, but the Australian's 52 initiated a recovery against his former county until he fell to compatriot Jim Allenby in what proved to be a rain-shortened day's final delivery.
Only 16 minutes of play were possible at Worcester, during which Northamptonshire edged into a seven-run lead.