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Essex bat out day two to build big lead

Monday 4th July 2016

Men’s First Team

Kent’s bowlers toiled as promotion rivals Essex batted all day to establish a 273-run lead in the Specsavers County Championship match at Chelmsford.

Four Essex batters went past fifty, but three of them – Tom Westley, Ravi Bopara and Dan Lawrence – perished within sight of three figures. Captain Ryan ten Doeschate, meanwhile, remains unbeaten on 77. And all that after Alastair Cook, the England captain, went for 49 at the end of the first day.

The foundation for Essex’s big score was laid by a third-wicket stand of 169 in 44 overs between Westley and Bopara.

Westley scored heaviest in the early part of the partnership, being particularly severe on Mitch Claydon before the Australian pace man turned the tables in mid-afternoon. He hit two fours in one over, steering the ball through midwicket and then another through gully.

Westley also dealt with the questions that South African quick Kagiso Rabada had posed early on for Ravi Bopara, to whom he bowled 23 consecutive dot balls.

Bopara started circumspectly, and when he bounced down the wicket to hit Darren Stevens over the top it was a rare outbreak of aggression. But once he was settled, Bopara matched Westley’s scoring rate.

Westley, who had a six-over and 16-run advantage, reached his fifty first when he pushed a single off Adam Ball to mid-off. It had taken him 75 balls. Bopara’s half-century took 102 balls and arrived just before lunch when he swept James Tredwell for two.

Both batsmen, though, survived sharp chances. Westley had added one more to his eighth Championship fifty in 13 innings when he hit low and hard to Sam Northeast at short mid-on, but the Kent captain couldn’t cling on. Soon after, Bopara swished at Tredwell and the ball flew through a diving Adam Ball at first slip.

When Westley’s straight drive against Ball hit the stumps at the opposite end and ricocheted into the offside, it not only brought up the hundred partnership in 26 overs, but also overtook the Kent first-innings total.

Bopara accelerated after lunch and twice advanced down the wicket to hit first Stevens and then Tredwell over the top for fours. The assault had to end, and it did when Westley became bogged down against Claydon and chased a delivery that was both short and wide to be caught behind. He departed, deeply frustrated, for 88 off 150 balls, with a dozen fours.

Bopara went within five overs, attempting to drive but playing loosely at Stevens and being caught low down by Sean Dickson at short extra cover for 94. It was Bopara highest Championship score of the season and took 157 balls and included 11 fours.

Jaik Mickleburgh and Lawrence put on 59 for the fifth wicket in 20 overs before Mickleburgh nibbled at one from Ball and gave Tredwell a catch at first slip.

Essex were still 43 runs short of maximum batting points at that point with eight overs remaining. Ten Doeschate hit his first two balls for four, and then cut Stevens for a third to show his intent. Lawrence also hit Stevens for successive fours, the first past square leg bringing up a 78-ball fifty, and later lofted Tredwell over long on for six.

The pair passed the 400-run threshold, and the fifth batting point, with nine balls to spare, having put on 45 in little more than seven overs.

Ten Doeschate took two successive boundaries off Joe Denly to pass 50. He needed just 54 balls to get there, hitting nine fours along the way.

The sixth-wicket pair had just put up the 100 partnership in 18 overs when Lawrence went for another big one and holed out at long-off to the substitute fielder, Matt Hunn. His 82 encompassed 120 balls with 10 fours and one six.

Kent’s Adam Ball said: “It’s been a pretty long day. It’s a pretty good wicket so it was just about toiling away and seeing what we could pick up.
"We bowled pretty well first up and were unlucky not to take a few wickets in that first session. But once Bopara and Westley got going it got easier and easier throughout the day. It was pretty crucial for us to take some early wickets and we didn’t. It led to us being out there all day.
“It was a relief when we got some wickets after lunch. I was quite happy to pick up a wicket myself and for the opportunity to get some overs under my belt. I’m starting to get the confidence back with the ball.
"I haven’t really bowled much in the four-day stuff and I’m working on getting better. I keep learning and I’m trying to do my best for the team.”


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