Essex moved into a healthy position on the second day of this Specsavers County Championship Division Two game at the College Ground Cheltenham. At the close they were all out for 333 in reply to Gloucestershire’s 255, a lead of 78 runs.
The feature of the Essex effort was a classy 127 by 19 year-old Dan Lawrence. It was his third Championship century and was scored off 177 balls with 19 fours.
The former England Under-19 player scored all round the wicket, his driving in front of the wicket being a particular pleasure to watch. He shared a fifth wicket stand of 102 with his skipper Ryan ten Doeschate, which has given the visitors the edge in entertaining game.
This morning Gloucestershire resumed on their overnight total of 218/8, with Craig Miles (47) and Liam Norwell (7) the not out batsmen.
Miles, who recorded his career best 62 not out on this ground two years ago, passed 50 but was then bowled by Jamie Porter. The same bowler had Norwell caught at slip in his next over.
Gloucestershire’s 255 all out represented a decent effort after being 140/7 yesterday afternoon. Matt Quinn, after his superb bowling yesterday, finished with 7/76 and Porter with 3/67.
When Essex batted, Nick Browne was soon well caught by Chris Dent from Payne for 14. The introduction of Josh Shaw, the season-long loanee from Yorkshire who has returned to the West after being recalled last month, saw the downfall of Tom Westley and Ravi Bopara. Westley was lbw in Shaw’s first over; Bopara caught at slip first ball to make Essex 57/3.
After lunch Shaw continued at the Chapel End, the same end from which Quinn enjoyed his success, and soon had opener Jaik Mickelburgh caught at square leg for his third wicket. At 78/4 the game seems evenly poised.
Dan Lawrence and skipper Ryan ten Doeschate steadied the ship for Essex against the Gloucestershire seam attack. Lawrence played stylishly, scoring all round the wicket. Both reached their half- centuries but the reintroduction of Shaw saw him trap ten Doeschate in front with a yorker for 52.
Tea was taken with Essex at 192/5, Lawrence; 59 not out.
After tea, Ashar Zaidi fenced at Norwell and was caught at second slip for 21. James Foster joined Lawrence, and set about pushing Essex towards a first innings lead. Lawrence reached his century with the score on 274/6
Lawrence’s 100 came off 162 balls with 14 fours. It took Kieran Noema-Barnett’s medium pace to dismiss him for 127. The Kiwi also accounted for Graham Napier who went for a duck, superbly caught one-handed by the leaping Graeme van Buuren at square cover.
Foster batted with his usual calm authority although as the innings neared its end he went on the attack, treating Miles with the new ball with particular severity. The young Gloucestershire quickie did not have the best of days, conceding 71 from his 17 overs.
Miles had some consolation as he wrapped up the innings with two wickets, getting Foster caught on the mid wicket boundary for 47 and Quinn caught without scoring.
Shaw was the pick of the home attack taking 4/72 from his 17 overs although the most economical bowler was Noema- Barnett whose 2/30 came from 11 overs.
Essex’s lead gives them a distinct advantage going into the third day but Cheltenham pitches don’t tend to deteriorate over the four days, so a solid batting effort from the hosts tomorrow could even up what may turn into a fascinating game.