DAY 1 STUMPS: ESSEX 370-7d (Bopara 93, Finn 3-85)
At the start of the match it was agreed that the first innings of each side would be limited to a maximum of 90 overs and after a toss that Middlesex won, Nick Browne and England Captain Alistair Cook opened the innings for Essex.
With the practice nets up on one side of the ground, the playing area was smaller than usual when Steve Finn and Toby Roland-Jones opened the attack for the visitors.
Finn and Roland-Jones got some movement off the pitch and after Cook opened his account in the fifth over with a boundary off Finn, he got an edge to the next delivery from Finn and he was caught at first slip by James Franklin for four. Tom Westley joined Browne with the total on 22-1 and Westley got off the mark with a four off Finn two balls later. Westley raced to 26 off only 17 balls and with Browne, took the total to 55-1 after ten overs.
Tim Murtagh replaced Steve Finn at the River End but after Browne scored two fours in Murtagh’s opening over, Murtagh settled into his usual rhythm and the scoring rate slowed. Toby Roland-Jones was unlucky to record figures of 0-27 in seven overs before skipper James Franklin replaced him at the Hays Close End. The hundred came up off the final ball before lunch which Westley hit for a four off Ravi Patel which also brought up Westley’s fifty (off 66 balls, 11 fours).
Steve Finn returned to the attack immediately after lunch and with his fourth delivery, he had Westley caught at the wicket by John Simpson without adding to his lunchtime score of 53. Ravi Bopara joined Browne who took ten runs off Finn’s next over which brought up his 82 ball fifty (1 six & 9 fours). Finn had his revenge in his following over when Browne got an edge and Ollie Rayner held a sharp catch at second slip to dismiss him for 52.
Daniel Lawrence joined Bopara with the total on 122-3 after 30 overs and the pair had to survive a testing time against Finn and James Fuller who had figures of 0-17 from a seven over spell of bowling. Lawrence scored fifteen runs off Steve Finn’s 12th over including a six over mid-wicket. The total reached 156-3 after 39 overs before a double change brought Toby Roland-Jones and James Harris to the attack.
After eight runs came off Roland-Jones’ first over and nine runs from Harris’s first over, Bopara and Lawrence took the total to 189-3 after 49 overs before Middlesex introduced an all-spin attack of Ollie Rayner and Ravi Patel. Lawrence and Bopara took nine runs off Patel’s opening over and after a maiden bowled by Rayner; twelve runs came off Patel’s next over although Bopara survived a chance to Franklin at slip. During the over, Lawrence brought up his fifty with a six off Patel (off 73 balls, 2 sixes & 8 fours). Bopara then hit Rayner for a six and a four to bring up an 80-ball fifty (1 six & 9 fours).
The partnership between Bopara and Lawrence had reached 102 before Ravi Patel trapped Lawrence LBW for 53 which brought Jessie Ryder to the wicket. Ryder hit Ollie Rayner for a six off the fifth ball he faced before Bopara hit two fours followed by two sixes in Rayner’s following over. Bopara hit Rayner for a further six in the final over before tea which came with Essex on 262-4 from 59 overs (Bopara 82 not out).
After tea, James Franklin and Tim Murtagh returned to the attack but fifteen runs came off the first nine balls after the break before Ryder was caught at the wicket by John Simpson for 18. Essex skipper Ryan ten Doeschate joined Bopara with the total on 277-5 and Bopara reached 93 before he top-edged an attempted pull-shot and ‘keeper Simpson took the catch (Bopara hit 4 sixes & 13 fours in an 104 ball innings).
James Foster joined ten Doeschate and the pair played themselves in with the three hundred not coming up until the 72nd over. The pair took the total to 347-6 before ten Doeschate who had just hit Ollie Rayner for a six, attempted a reverse sweep and was LBW to Rayner for 32. David Masters hit Rayner for two sixes in his following over before Nick Gubbins bowled the final over of the day.
The Essex innings finished on 370-7 after 90 overs with Foster on 38 not out and Masters 16 not out (off 6 balls). The Middlesex bowlers stuck to their task well but were not helped by the short boundaries and a number of edges which flew to the boundary. Steve Finn had figures of 3-85 in 16 overs but was always a threat as was Toby Roland-Jones who finished with figures of 0-47 in 16 overs. Tim Murtagh took 2-32 in 12 overs, James Franklin 0-39 in 12 overs, Ravi Patel 1-46 in 11 overs, James Fuller 0-17 in 7 overs, James Harris 0-18 in 5 overs, Ollie Rayner 1-75 in 10 overs with Nick Gubbins having figures of 0-7 in 1 over.