Essex bounce back to claim lead
Essex 173 for 7 v Derbyshire 132
Essex overcame a disastrous start to their innings on a day dominated by bowlers to gain the upper hand in their Division Two battle against Derbyshire at Chelmsford. After the visitors were bowled out for 132, Essex replied with 173 for 7 but not before they had lost both openers for only one run.
A horrendous mix-up ended with Tom Westley run out by half the length of the pitch, whilst Billy Godleman was bowled by Tim Groenewald without offering a stroke. When Owais Shah was caught at slip off Tony Palladino with the total on 20, there were doubts about Essex gaining a first-innings lead.
But Jaik Mickleburgh and Adam Wheater, with 34 and 31 respectively, were to tip the balance in Essex's favour with positive strokeplay, while James Foster hit a brisk 25 before he was caught at slip immediately after the visitors' total had been passed.
Before and after Foster's dismissal, Ryan ten Doeschate rode his luck with several edges to reach a 55-ball half-century, getting to 54 by the close and helping to point the way to a very useful lead despite the loss of Graham Napier, who was bowled for 11 by Palladino with two overs left in the day.
Derbyshire were placed firmly on the back foot by David Masters as Foster's decision to insert his opponents reaped rapid dividends. In an opening spell of eight overs, the country's leading wicket-taker claimed three victims at a personal cost of 16, while 17-year-old Reece Topley accounted for debutant Matt Lineker for a duck.
Masters took full advantage of the swing conditions, starting with the wicket of Martin Guptill when the bowler found the edge to have the opening batsman caught by Ten Doeschate in the slip cordon. Then in his seventh over, Masters struck with successive deliveries to take his season's Championship tally to 78.
Chesney Hughes was trapped lbw while Dan Redfern was undone by a delivery that again found the edge while leaving him late to provide Shah with a comfortable catch. That left the visitors in serious trouble at 28 for 4. Wes Durston and Greg Smith steadied things by carrying the score to 69 before the latter was snapped up by Westley in the slips to give Topley his second success.
Durston was by far the pick of the Derbyshire batsmen, catching the eye with several fine drives among his eight boundaries while making 48. He was finally undone when Maurice Chambers found extra lift to have him caught behind and his departure with the total on 104 signalled a swift further decline in the innings.
Of those that followed him, only Ross Whiteley reached double figures and he was last out when he hoisted Chambers to long off. Chambers ended with 3 for 34, Masters 3 for 28, Topley 2 for 35 and Napier 2 for 33.