Essex pile on the runs against Worcestershire
- Credit: Nick Wood/TGS Photo
Essex registered their highest score in the LV=Insurance County Championship for five years as Tom Westley continued his love affair with New Road on day two against Worcestershire.
Westley hit his third century in his last four matches on the ground – two for his County and one for England Lions – as Essex amassed 561-8 declared from 174 overs.
It was their best total in the competition since 569 all out against Kent at Chelmsford in 2016.
Dan Lawrence, Paul Walter and Simon Harmer also scored half centuries after Sir Alastair Cook’s opening day hundred had laid the initial foundations.
The home attack retained their discipline on a slow pitch offering virtually no encouragement to the seamers and kept the run rate below three an over until Harmer’s late assault.
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But it left their batsmen facing a similar challenge to the opening game of the season at Chelmsford when they withstood Essex for two days after they had amassed 490-9.
Openers Daryl Mitchell and Jake Libby completed the first part of that task in surviving 16 overs in reaching 37-0.
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Essex resumed on 266-2 and Lawrence completed his half century when depositing a full toss from leg spinner Brett D’Oliveira over mid-wicket for six.
It also brought up the 300 and the third batting point in the 110th over.
A single on the leg side off D’Oliveira enabled Westley, on 75 overnight, to bring up his century which followed on from his double hundred in the meeting at Chelmsford.
Libby, captaining Worcestershire in this game for the first time, made the breakthrough with his initial delivery.
Westley went onto make 113 before attempting to sweep Libby and top edged a catch to Ben Cox running from behind the stumps to the bowler’s end.
He hit one six and 14 fours in his 256 ball innings and the partnership with Lawrence added 130 in 36.5 overs.
There was reward for Pennington after a spell of just one boundary in 12 overs during the afternoon session.
Lawrence - on 90 from 155 balls with one six and nine fours - moved across his stumps and was adjudged lbw after the ball struck his back pad.
It was a disappointing end to an innings viewed by England batting coach, Marcus Trescothick.
Tom Fell pulled off an excellent diving catch at short third man to dismiss Paul Walter (65) who carved away a delivery from Daryl Mitchell at 463-5.
Ryan ten Doechate (41) survived a stumping chance off Brett D’Oliveira but the leg spinner trapped him lbw to the very next delivery.
D’Oliveira then had Adam Wheater (23) lbw aiming a blow over square leg and Championship debutant Shane Snater (1) played on to the same bowler.
Harmer raced to his half century off 47 balls with the aid of three sixes in an over from D’Oliveira before the declaration.
Westley said: “We are very happy. It’s not often you get 500 on the board so I would say we are in the box seat.
“It’s going to be a challenge getting 20 wickets because the pitch is very placid. I thought all the guys batted brilliantly.
“Obviously ‘Chef’ (Alastair Cook) set it up but the way the middle-lower order came in and got runs is very pleasing, especially after a couple of disappointing batting performances.
“Harmy (Simon Harmer) probably knows that he has got a few overs to bowl but the wicket is pretty dead so it is going to be a monumental effort, one that our group of lads are up to. We’ve done it many times in the past.“