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Late wickets spoil decent day for Essex

PUBLISHED: 18:33 07 April 2017

Essex players celebrate the wicket of Lancashire's Ryan McLaren at the Cloudfm County Ground (pic Adam Davy/PA)

Essex players celebrate the wicket of Lancashire's Ryan McLaren at the Cloudfm County Ground (pic Adam Davy/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Lancashire hit back with ball as 2017 season gets underway

Essex's Jamie Porter on day one of the Specsavers County Cricket Championship Division One season (pic Adam Davy/PA)Essex's Jamie Porter on day one of the Specsavers County Cricket Championship Division One season (pic Adam Davy/PA)

Essex enjoyed a decent start to life back in Division One of the Specsavers County Championship against Lancashire with the ball, but lost wickets in the final overs of the day to take the gloss off things.

Aaron Beard and Neil Wagner took three wickets apiece, while Jamie Porter nabbed a brace and Simon Harmer also had success as the visitors were dismissed for 319.

But Nick Browne and Beard fell as shadows lengthened at Chelmsford to ensure honours were about even at the close of play.

There was some early excitement in the morning air when word came through that Essex were batting first on their return to the top flight, but it only lasted for a few minutes before confirmation was received that it was, in fact, Lancashire’s openers who were taking guard at the start of play.

Former Oaks Park pupil Porter took the new ball, though, from the River End and his first delivery was pushed into the off side for a single by Alex Davies.

England youngster Haseeb Hameed got off the mark in similar fashion but it was a generally tight first over from Porter.

The first ball of his next over was driven through the on side for four by Davies, but Porter hit back two balls later to find the edge of his bat and Adam Wheater took the catch for the first wicket of the 2017 campaign.

It was a fine start for Porter, who had taken more wickets in April (22) last year than anyone else, and he found the edge of Hameed’s bat in his third over, but the ball dropped short of slip.

Porter was replaced by Beard after an opening spell of 4-0-14-1, but could be pleased with his first salvo in the top flight, and he was soon back in the attack in place of Wagner at the opposite end of the ground.

New Zealander Wagner (6-0-30-0) had banged in plenty of short deliveries in his first spell for the club, but Porter produced the first maiden of the morning on his return and Beard followed up with another, including the wicket of Liam Livingstone, who drove hard and saw Tom Westley parry the ball for a diving Varun Chopra to take the catch at slip.

Porter settled into a good rhythm at the Hayes Close End as the Essex duo gained control, twice beating the outside edge of Hameed’s bat in the 18th over before having the ball driven back past him for a boundary.

And after a 5-2-15-0 spell, Porter was replaced late in the morning session by Ravi Bopara, who saw Steven Croft bring up Lancashire’s century with a lovely off-drive and was then cut away for another boundary in the same over of a brief 3-0-20-0 spell.

Lancashire lunched on 114-2, but Porter struck with his third ball of the afternoon session, getting one to nip back and hit the stumps to dismiss Hameed without addition to his score, falling three runs short of his half-century.

Captain Ryan ten Doeschate replaced Porter (4-1-10-1) after another short spell with Wagner, but it was South African spinner Harmer who made the next breakthrough, tempting Croft (48) to top edge an attempted sweep to leaping substitute fielder Callum Taylor – on for unwell Bopara – at backward square leg.

Taylor then reacted quickly to throw to the non-striker’s end when Shivnarine Chanderpaul was sent back by Dane Vilas, allowing Harmer to remove the bails and dismiss the West Indian, with Ryan McLaren edging his first ball from Wagner to Tom Westley at second slip to leave the visitors on 160-6 and Essex on top.

Vilas and Jordan Clark steadied the Lancashire innings with some defiant strokeplay, before Porter (3-0-10-0) made way for the returning Bopara shortly before tea, and a 57-run stand was ended when Beard trapped Clark leg before wicket.

And with Lancashire going into the interval on 240-7, Essex could be well pleased with their efforts in front of a decent Chelmsford crowd, basking in sunshine for the most part.

Porter (3-1-10-0) beat the bat a few times without reward in his next spell after tea, as Lancashire’s eighth-wicket pair dug in to take their stand to 47, before Wagner banged in another short ball and Stephen Parry sent a leading edge looping up for a diving Harmer to grab just above the turf, after sprinting forward from third slip.

And Wagner then took a routine catch at mid-off to dismiss South African Vilas for a top-scoring 74 in Beard’s returning over to leave the visitors nine men down.

England’s Jimmy Anderson helped add valuable late runs, deflecting leg-side deliveries from Wagner and Beard off his pads to the boundary and then reverse-sweeping Harmer for another four to bring up the 300.

And Kyle Jarvis drove Beard arrow-straight down the ground for another boundary, before ten Doeschate decided to take the new ball.

Porter beat Anderson’s bat three times, without getting a touch, while ten Doeschate missed a chance at wide mid-on when Jarvis threw his bat at Wagner as the last-wicket pair brought up a half-century stand and a century against the name of the New Zealander.

Wagner tempted Jarvis to edge to Chopra at first slip for his third scalp soon after, though, to wrap up the innings on 319, leaving Essex with nine overs to face before the close of play.

And Chopra fenced at Anderson’s very first ball, before watching the next five go through to wicketkeeper Davies in an opening maiden.

Browne, having scored 179 runs against Durham University, drove his second ball faced from Jarvis down the ground for a lovely four and, after Chopra had pushed Anderson away for his first boundary, clipped England’s leading Test wicket-taker off his legs and edged to third man for two more fours.

Browne was looking in good touch as he drove Jarvis away for a fourth boundary in quick succession, but then edged behind and trudged disconsolately off.

And nightwatchman Beard, following his maiden first-class half-century against Durham’s students, edged Anderson behind in the next over as Lancashire gained late success.

Lancashire 319 (Vilas 74, Croft 48, Hameed 47; Porter 21-4-64-2, Wagner 23.1-1-100-3, Beard 15-4-47-3, Bopara 5-0-31-0, Harmer 20-4-59-1).

Essex 35-2 (Browne 16, Chopra 8*, Beard 3, Westley 12*; Anderson 5-2-25-1, Jarvis 4-0-14-1).

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