Essex moved into a winning position on a dreary, damp day at the Cheltenham festival after bowling Gloucestershire out for 290 in their second innings, a lead of 212. The visitors had reached 16/1 by the close needing 197 for their fourth victory of the season.
That the home side reached a respectable total was largely due to an excellent century for opener and skipper Gareth Roderick, his first of the season and his fifth in the Championship.
Half centuries from Chris Dent and Michael Klinger also helped to halt Essex’s progress but the rest of the batting offered little resistance to the impressive bowling of Graham Napier who took 4/62 and Matt Quinn (4/87). Quinn’s return gave him 11/163in the match, a fine haul from a bowler who hasn’t been a regular in the Essex side this season.
This morning, Gloucestershire set about clearing the first innings arrears of 78. Under gloomy skies Chris Dent and Gareth Roderick made good progress against the Essex seamers, Roderick reaching his half century as the arrears were erased.
The second interruption of the morning for rain came in the 20th over when lunch was taken with Gloucestershire 88/0, Roderick on 52 and Dent 31.
After lunch Gloucestershire continued untroubled until Ravi Bopara bowled Dent, who had overtaken Roderick, for 72 on 148/1.
Graeme van Buuren contributed a brisk 25, hitting skipper Ryan ten Doeschate for three successive boundaries, before edging Matt Quinn to the wicketkeeper with the hosts 107 ahead. Roderick, after his start, settled into a more typically solid role and reached a highly valuable hundred with the score on 222/2. It came from 134 balls with 11 fours. Shortly after he was leg before to Bopara for 102.
At tea, Gloucestershire were 231/3 from 54 overs with Michael Klinger on 22 and Hamish Marshall on 0. Marshall was out soon after tea, lbw to Quinn without scoring. Jack Taylor too was out for a duck in the next over, well caught at point off Napier.
With the hosts 238/5, only 160 ahead Essex assumed control. They pressed home the advantage when Quinn got one to bounce at Kieran Noema-Barnett, the Kiwi all-rounder edging to slip for ten.
Craig Miles joined Klinger and enjoyed a spirited exchange with Quinn, as the Essex man fired several deliveries around his fellow quickie’s ears. The duel ended with Quinn having the last laugh. The ball after Miles hit him for six over mid-wicket, Quinn persuaded Miles to guide another short ball into his leg side trap where the grateful ten Doeschate pocketed the catch.
At 269 Payne was eighth out; caught behind off Napier who was bowling well off a short run. Gloucestershire still harboured hopes of setting the visitors a competitive target for the last day as long as Klinger remained. Liam Norwell, who scored a maiden first- class century earlier in the season, joined him.
But today wasn’t Norwell’s day, as he became the fourth home batsman to fail to score. He was given out caught behind in an excellent Napier spell, but looked distinctly unimpressed with the decision.
Klinger reached a sound half-century but he was left stranded on 53 when Shaw became Napier’s fourth victim and the Gloucestershire innings ended on 290, a lead of 212.
Although Essex lost Mickleburgh, bowled by Payne, just before the close it is difficult to see any other result tomorrow than an Essex win some time after lunch. It will be a welcome boost for the visitors’ promotion campaign; since their lead in the table has been whittled away by two successive Worcestershire wins.