Essex batsmen dominate Northants

PUBLISHED: 18:52 24 April 2016 | UPDATED: 18:52 24 April 2016

Nick Browne in batting action for Essex (pic: TGSPHOTO)

Nick Browne in batting action for Essex (pic: TGSPHOTO)

TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions

Top four make half-centuries

Essex batted themselves into a position of strength on the first day of their County Championship Division Two encounter with Northamptonshire at Chelmsford.

Their top four of Nick Browne, Alastair Cook, Tom Westley and Ravi Bopara all scored half-centuries, with Dan Lawrence moving towards a fifty of his own in an unbroken 88-run stand for the fourth wicket to help the hosts reach 335-3 at the close.

Early pacesetters Essex brought David Masters into their side following their draw with Sussex at Hove in place of Australian Matt Dixon and were put into bat as Northants chose to bowl first.

Browne hit the third ball of the day to the cover boundary and saw Cook dropped at first slip as the first 10 overs produced 24 runs.

A straight drive from Browne brought up the half-century partnership, as the South Woodford member dominated the scoring.

And he was first to his own fifty with another cover drive for four, remaining unbeaten on 57 as Essex reached 98-0 at lunch, with Cook 29 not out.

Browne took the hosts into three figures soon after the restart, but then edged to Richard Levi at slip, off the bowling of Ben Sanderson, to depart for 60 with the total on 108.

Cook, after hitting an unbeaten 127 against Sussex, reached his half-century from 127 balls, with nine fours, but then edged Richard Gleeson to wicketkeeper Adam Rossington on 65 to leave Essex 196-2.

Westley became the third player to reach a half-century and the quickest yet from just 62 balls after hitting seven boundaries as Essex reached 203-2 for their first batting point.

And Bopara helped take the total to 236-2 at tea, going into the break unbeaten on 20.

Westley was bowled by Sanderson for 64 soon after the restart, but former Trinity High School pupil Lawrence helped Hainault & Clayhall’s Bopara pick up the second batting point and advance the total to 284-3 before Northants took the second new ball.

The half-century partnership came up soon after, followed by a third batting point as Essex moved beyond the 300-run mark.

And they had advanced to 319-3, with Bopara and Lawrence both now into the 40s, when bad light stopped play in the 91st over.

After a short delay, the duo returned to the crease and Bopara hit two fours in the space of four balls from Sanderson to reach his fifty.

Meanwhile, Lawrence was left unbeaten on 44 from 69 balls at the other end when stumps were finally drawn.

Essex 335-3: Browne 60; Cook 65; Westley 64; Bopara 57*; Lawrence 44*.

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