Eckersley hundred cheers Leicestershire
Leicestershire 328 for 4 (Eckersley 133* v Essex
Ned Eckersley took full advantage of a friendly pitch to collect his second century of the season on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division Two match against Essex at Chelmsford.
The right-hander combined disciplined defence with controlled aggression as he reached the close on 133 not out, including 15 fours and two sixes off 236 deliveries, as he resisted the attempts of six bowlers to remove him.
Essex must have feared the worst when the visitors chose to bat upon winning the toss and it soon became apparent they were destined for a hard day's labour.
Openers Greg Smith and Niall O'Brien scored so freely they had 91 on the board before Tymal Mills made the breakthrough by forcing O'Brien to play on for 54. Smith followed soon afterwards for 46 when he dispatched a long hop from leg spinner Tom Craddock into the hands of David Masters at deep mid-on.
Mills the breached the defences of Joe Burns, but Eckersley and Shiv Thakor put Leicestershire back in the ascendancy with a partnership of 97 in 28 overs.
Although Craddock was twice pulled for six by Eckersley, the legspinner always looked more likely to end the stand. He beat both batsmen with deliveries that lifted and turned and claimed deserved reward with a similar ball that Thakor could only glide into the waiting hands of Owais Shah at slip after he had made 36.
But his dismissal only paved the way for skipper Matt Boyce to join forces with Eckersley as they stayed together throughout the final session. They added 116 by the close of the first day and the docile nature of the pitch suggests the Essex bowlers face quite a bit more work.
Eckersley underlined why he has proved the mainstay of the Leicestershire batting this season. He went into the game with 623 runs for an average of just over 51 and showed he has the temperament and determination to make progress in stamina-sapping conditions.
It added up to a successful day for a Leicestershire side stranded at the foot of the table and still searching for their first Championship success of the campaign.