Masters puts Essex on top
Gloucestershire 176 for 6 v Essex 363
David Masters carried his Championship haul of wickets to 71 for the season as Essex gained the upper hand against Gloucestershire on the second day of the County Championship match at Colchester's Castle Park.
The 33-year-old paceman, the leading wicket-taker in the country, took four wickets for 50 runs as the visitors finished on 176 for 6 in reply to their opponents' total of 363 all out.
Masters' nagging accuracy and ability to extract lift made him a difficult proposition and he was on course to register his sixth haul of five wickets or more in an innings until rain arrived to end play at 3pm.
It came with Gloucestershire still requiring a further 38 runs to avoid the follow-on - far from a straightforward task on a lively pitch. Masters struck in his second over by getting rid of Hamish Marshall with the help of Tom Westley at second slip.
Then, after lunch, he had Chris Taylor caught behind before removing brothers Alex and Will Gidman with successive deliveries. The dismissal of Alex Gidman was not without incident. After the visiting skipper was given out lbw when he had scored 29 - which included two sixes in one over from off-spinner Tom Westley - he moved forward to remonstrate with umpire Steve Gale for a few seconds before turning and heading back to the pavilion.
Gale had yesterday reversed his decision after giving Essex century maker Ryan ten Doeschate out caught behind. It was an unsavoury incident and no doubt one which will be reported to the appropriate authorities. Certainly it took some of the gloss off a fine effort from Kane Williamson.
The New Zealander batted with an assurance his colleagues failed to match and was within sight of a century when Graham Napier trapped him on the back foot for 83. It was an effort which spanned 107 balls and included 10 fours.
Napier had earlier got rid of opener Chris Dent - with Westley again accepting a slip catch - but it was the evergreen Masters who claimed the day's honours.
Earlier in the day, Jon Lewis claimed the final Essex wicket after the home side had resumed on 359 for 9. Tom Craddock was bowled to give the fast bowler figures of four for 46 from 15.5 overs and his dismissal left ten Doeschate unbeaten with 124, which contained 10 fours and one six and spread over 182 deliveries.