Centurions put Essex on top

PUBLISHED: 18:30 11 April 2016

Essex's Alastair Cook hits out on his way to a century (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

Essex's Alastair Cook hits out on his way to a century (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA Wire

Cook and Westley hit hundreds

England Test captain Alastair Cook and Tom Westley both hit hundreds in a double-century stand to put Essex firmly on top of their county championship match with Gloucestershire at Chelmsford.

The second-wicket pair put on 222 to help the hosts to within three runs of Gloucestershire’s first innnigs total of 262 by tea, before the visitors hit back with three late wickets before rain.

Having navigated a tricky final hour on the first day of the new season, after the fall of Nick Browne, Cook and Westley made untroubled progress to their half-centuries in the morning session to lead Essex to 164-1 at lunch.

Cook hit the first ball of the day to the square-leg boundary and was the first to reach fifty, with a lovely extra-cover drive off Tom Hampton, with Westley hitting the ninth boundary of his innings in the next over from Kieran Noema-Barnett to reach his mark.

Westley then accelerated to reach 85 not out from 159 deliveries at the interval, with Cook on 64 from 132 balls.

And Westley was first to three figures after the resumption of play, with the 18th boundary of his innings, before Cook reached his first championship century since 2014.

Cook was then trapped in the crease by off-break bowler Jack Taylor, having hit 16 fours in his 105 from 187 balls and his departure ended a club record partnership for the second wicket against Gloucestershire, surpassing the 192-run stand between Paul Prichard and Jon Lewis in 1994.

Westley was caught behind off Taylor after reaching 121 from 244 balls, but Ravi Bopara and Dan Lawrence saw Essex to tea on 259-3.

Bopara fell for 14 after Essex had added just eight runs to their total in the final session, bowled by Liam Norwell, and Lawrence followed for 11 to Josh Shaw, who added the scalp of captain Ryan ten Doeschate for just four runs.

Essex had lost three wickets for 10 runs at that point, but James Foster joined Jesse Ryder in the middle and the hosts survived four more overs before the weather intervened to force an early finish.

Gloucestershire 262 (Roderick 88*; Porter 4-59 Napier 3-57).

Essex 287-6 (Browne 1; Cook 105; Westley 121; Bopara 14; Lawrence 11; Ryder 13*; ten Doeschate 4; Foster 3*).

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