Essex made good progress towards the goal of consolidating their leadership of Division Two in the first day against Gloucestershire at the Cheltenham festival. The hosts finished on 218-8 from the 68 overs possible in a rain-affected day.
The visitors’ star performer was 23-year-old New Zealand right-arm fast-medium bowler Matt Quinn, in his first season with Essex, who blew away the Gloucestershire upper and middle-order with a devastating spell of 6-28 immediately after lunch.
Quinn, playing in the Championship with a British passport, made the most of the moisture in the pitch following a heavy pre-lunch shower by bowling with pace, bounce and movement.
After a uncontested toss Gloucestershire made a brisk start not losing their first wicket until the score was 77 when the in-form Chris Dent was caught at slip from Jamie Porter for 37.
Gareth Roderick and Graeme van Buuren took the score to 98-1 after 26 overs before the heavens opened and an early lunch was taken.
Immediately on resumption, Quinn, bowling a hostile spell at the Chapel End, trapped van Buuren for 13 and then bowled Michael Klinger middle stump for 5, while Roderick became Quinn’s third victim when lbw for a well-made 61.
Hamish Marshall followed caught at slip from the tall Kiwi for 10 to see Gloucestershire slip to 127-5, and from their healthy rain break position the hosts surrendered the advantage to the visitors thanks to the Quinn’s inspired spell.
The emerging sun, putting in a rare appearance on this gloomy Cotswold day, heralded Quinn’s fifth wicket as he bowled Kieran Noema-Barnett to sink the home side to a perilous 133-6.
Six became seven as Jack Taylor, playing as a batsman in this game during his period of suspension as a bowler, was yorked by Quinn for 3, to complete a superb spell of hostile fast-medium bowling with six wickets in ten overs.
Craig Miles and David Payne set about taking the Gloucestershire score towards respectability as Quinn tired and the pitch appeared to lose some of its venom. But on 205, after a late tea and another break for rain and bad light, Payne became Quinn’s seventh victim.
Miles, not out 47 and Liam Norwell, unbeaten on 7 saw Gloucestershire through to a late finish without further loss.