Essex set out in pursuit of a victory over seventh-placed Warwickshire to continue their race for the Championship title, as they currently lie two points ahead of Somerset in the table.
Warwickshire, once again struck down with injury, put out a depleted team. They were without Tim Ambrose, due to a stomach upset, Adam Hose who has a knee injury that’s flared up and Rob Yates who is suffering from an illness as well. This brought Ethan Brookes, the youngest of the Brookes brothers, into the team to make his first-class debut.
Essex saw Amir return to Pakistan after their last match due to his Visa expiring, with Aaron Beard taking his place for this contest.
After an uncontested toss, and Essex choosing to take advantage of being able to bowl first, it was a decision that didn’t look to be paying off when Dom Sibley and Wil Rhodes reached 87 without loss. The well-established pair battled through some high quality bowling from Porter, however when Simon Harmer was brought into the attack, Essex got their rewards.
Harmer picked up two wickets in six balls just before lunch, as Rhodes edged behind on 38 off 85 balls, and then five balls later Banks was caught at leg slip without scoring, as the hosts headed into lunch on 91/2.
The 100 for Warwickshire came up in the 36th over, whilst Sibley continued his successful season, reaching his 14th first-class half century from 139 balls, showing his determination to grit through difficult periods. However, it was Harmer’s introduction to the attack once again that brought the wicket Essex wanted, as the opener departed for 51 after a magnificent caught and bowl attempt by the off-spinner.
With Sibley getting out on 51, this meant he reached 1,000 championship runs this season, and is the leading run-scorer at Warwickshire.
Sibley’s wicket was the solitary one to fall in the afternoon session, as Sam Hain and Matt Lamb prospered at the crease, surpassing their 50 partnership and with Hain reaching his half-century from 132 balls – thus showcasing his talents in the red-ball after an impressive white-ball season.
Lamb reached his half-century, from 110 balls, which was pleasing to see after being in and out of the Championship side, as well as up and down the order. He showed some excellent shots as well as solid resilience.
The next milestone brought up was the 100 partnership between the two, who displayed as much class in their shots grit in their defence to mitigate Essex’s bowling, which for the most part was challenging to negotiate.
The pair ensured that Warwickshire secured their second batting point, passing 250 on the board, as they guided their team to the close of play on 269/3, with a growing partnership of 129.
It was certainly a day in which the visitors will have hoped for a greater breakthrough, but Hain and Lamb – as well as Sibley – resisted strongly and put Warwickshire in a good position going into Day 2. Essex will be fighting strong to keep their title chances alive.