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Cricket: Essex batsmen forced to dig in

PUBLISHED: 17:50 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:50 12 September 2019

Tom Westley in batting action for Essex during Warwickshire CCC vs Essex CCC, Specsavers County Championship Division 1 Cricket at Edgbaston Stadium on 12th September 2019

Tom Westley in batting action for Essex during Warwickshire CCC vs Essex CCC, Specsavers County Championship Division 1 Cricket at Edgbaston Stadium on 12th September 2019

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Warwickshire advanced to the brink of Division One safety after Essex were forced into a dogged rearguard action on the third day of their Specsavers County Championship Division One tussle at Edgbaston.

Nick Browne in batting action for Essex during Warwickshire CCC vs Essex CCC, Specsavers County Championship Division 1 Cricket at Edgbaston Stadium on 12th September 2019Nick Browne in batting action for Essex during Warwickshire CCC vs Essex CCC, Specsavers County Championship Division 1 Cricket at Edgbaston Stadium on 12th September 2019

Having resumed on 31-1, in reply to 517, at the start of the third day, Essex closed it on 278-6 with Tom Westley leading their defiance with an unbeaten 123 off 234 balls, with 16 fours - his 21st first-class century.

The accomplished work of Westley, supported by Nick Browne (65, 206 balls, 12 fours) steered Essex towards the follow-on figure of 368, though the loss of three quick wickets after tea means they still have some work to do to get there on the final morning.

With Somerset having thrashed Yorkshire at Taunton, a draw would leave Essex playing catch-up in the title race with just two games left.

Meanwhile, Warwickshire, having secured two bowling points, need only to close out the draw to secure safety and condemn Nottinghamshire to the drop.

Nick Browne and Tom Westley of Essex enjoy a useful partnership during Warwickshire CCC vs Essex CCC, Specsavers County Championship Division 1 Cricket at Edgbaston Stadium on 12th September 2019Nick Browne and Tom Westley of Essex enjoy a useful partnership during Warwickshire CCC vs Essex CCC, Specsavers County Championship Division 1 Cricket at Edgbaston Stadium on 12th September 2019

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With victory pretty much out of the equation after conceding such a big first-innings total, the visitors focused on the pursuit of batting points which could prove significant if the title race goes down to the wire.

They lost only one wicket in the morning session, in the sixth over of the day, when nightwatchman Sam Cook edged Olly Hannon-Dalby and Liam Banks took a fine catch diving to his left at second slip.

On a slow pitch, the batsmen were made to work hard by an injury-depleted Warwickshire attack led by spinner Jeetan Patel (37-13-60-3) who wheeled away at the Birmingham End while seamers rotated at the other.

Westley and Browne added a vigilant 106 in 41 overs and the opener, 16 not out overnight, reached his half-century (152 balls) in the first over after lunch.

Westley followed to his fifty from 90 balls with his sixth four, handsomely driven off Henry Brookes as the pair showed plenty of patience and application but were parted when Patel floated one inside Browne's defence and won an lbw decision.

Dan Lawrence (28, 72 balls, four fours) helped Westley add 75 in 25 overs but then fell to the new ball when he sliced a swinging delivery from George Garrett to point.

Ravi Bopara was soon bowled by Patel and when Ryan ten Doeschate was adjudged lbw to Henry Brookes, as the Bears' Division One status was all but secured before bad light lopped off the last nine overs.

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