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Season’s bests for Essex duo against Warwickshire

PUBLISHED: 19:39 19 June 2017

Nick Browne hits four runs for Essex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Nick Browne hits four runs for Essex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Browne and Bopara impress with the bat on first day

Nick Browne and Ravi Bopara both posted their highest scores in the Specsavers County Championship this season and combined in a fourth-wicket stand of 127 to underpin Essex’s innings on a stiflingly-hot first day at Chelmsford.

The two individual innings were of great contrast as Browne batted for five hours 12 minutes in grinding out a 244-ball 84, while Bopara gave his partner a 160-minute lead and was within 13 runs of him when Browne departed. They were together for 42 overs in the middle of a cloudless day.

Browne’s innings was lulls punctuated by the occasional outburst and beat his previous highest score this season, the 77 he scored in the second innings against Surrey 10 days ago.

Bopara’s knock was of outbursts punctuated by the occasional lull. He finished the day unbeaten on 84, 20 runs ahead of the 64 he recorded in the first innings at Guildford.

That Essex managed just 263-5 from a full 96-over day highlights what a day for painstaking run-scoring it was.

A measure of just how slow the day was can be seen by when milestones were reached: the first 50 came up in the 23rd over, 100 in the 46th and 150 in 59th. The new-ball was taken after 80 overs with the score on just 217-3.

Rikki Clarke took two quick wickets with the second cherry to peg Essex back at a time when they threatened to build a huge total and inflect Warwickshire’s fourth innings defeat of the season.

Essex were obdurate from start after electing to bat on the same strip on which 743 runs, for the loss of 10 wickets, in the Royal London Cup semi-final on Friday. It was slightly different on a soporific first half and a hour before Patel was introduced at the Hayes Close End.

With the final ball of his third over, he had Alastair Cook thrusting a leg down the wicket to kill the spin and being rapped on the pad and ending a first-wicket stand of 60.

Cook had been the more forthright of the openers – Nick Browne took 47 balls to reach double-figures – and started the scoreboard moving from the 23rd ball of the day with a glorious off-drive for four. When he was out for 39 from 64 balls, he had added another three boundaries.

Tom Westley had just swept Patel for four when he played forward and got a decisive edge to be held at slip by Clarke.

Browne was almost added to Patel’s scalps soon after lunch when the ball dollied off a forward prod and just eluded Sam Hain at short leg.

Patel had a three-over breather after bowling unchanged for 11 overs with figures of 2-28. Three balls into the interregnum, Boyd Rankin had Varun Chopra inexplicably leaving alone a straight-ish delivery to be bowled.

Bopara went after Patel when he returned, taking two steps down the wicket and depositing the ball over the bowler’s head for six. He collected a two from a paddle-sweep and a four, handsomely driven through the covers.

Browne went to his fifty from 161 balls with a three carved through midwicket off Patel. His first real show of aggression came 220 balls into his innings when he took several strides down the pitch and smashed Patel through mid-on for his sixth four.

The left-hander’s seventh boundary, driven through the covers off Sunny Singh, brought up the 100 partnership in 35 overs.

Next ball, he swept another four to bring up Essex’s 200 in the 77th over. Bopara then took advantge of a full-toss by Singh to go past his previous highest Championship score of the season.

After his marathon effort, Browne’s innings finally ended when he was beaten for pace by Clarke and was bowled.

And Clarke then claimed a second victim in quick succession when he had Ryan ten Doeschate almost doubled up by one that came back to leave him lbw for four.

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