Essex frustrated by Warwickshire batsmen
PUBLISHED: 17:55 10 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:55 10 September 2019
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Title-chasing Essex encountered stern resistance from relegation-threatened Warwickshire on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship tussle at Edgbaston.
Division One leaders Essex took up the away side's option to bowl first in the hope of making inroads into a Bears top order missing Ian Bell, Adam Hose, Rob Yates and Tim Ambrose through injury or illness.
But the Bears' depleted batting line-up showed plenty of resilience and concentration to close the opening day on 269-3.
After Dominic Sibley laid the foundation with 51 (158 balls, four fours), taking his championship tally for the season to exactly 1,000 runs, Sam Hain (77 not out, 185 balls, 10 fours) and Matt Lamb (69 not out, 149 balls, eight fours) carried on the resistance with an unbroken partnership of 129 in 51 overs.
On a day on which the seamers bowled well at times but beat the edge rather than finding it, Essex's wickets all came from spinner Simon Harmer whose marathon stint from the Birmingham End brought him 36-11-67-3.
Warwickshire received a diligent start from openers Sibley and Will Rhodes who added 87 in 27.3 overs before Harmer struck twice in six balls just before lunch. Rhodes (38, 85 balls, eight fours) edged a turning delivery to wicketkeeper Adam Wheater and then Liam Banks, still to score, was caught by Ravi Bopara at leg slip.
Having batted through the first session for 35, Sibley reached 50 from 139 balls an hour after lunch, but added only another single before chipping a return catch back to Harmer. That left Warwickshire 140-3 and Essex sensing an opportunity but Hain and Lamb knuckled down assiduously.
While Harmer wheeled away, the seamers rotated at the other end but found little assistance from the pitch. Jamie Porter, in particular, had little luck but Hain and Lamb reached their half-centuries from 132 and 110 balls respectively, each with eight fours.
In the last hour, the new ball failed to bring another breakthrough and, within seven overs, Essex turned back to Harmer but the fourth-wicket pair remained resolute under the cerulean Second City evening sky.
While Essex are at full strength, Warwickshire's extraordinary injury crisis has deepened yet further with the loss of Yates (illness), Tim Ambrose (upset stomach) and Adam Hose (knee injury). Eighteen-year-old all-rounder Ethan Brookes is making his debut, alongside brother Henry.