Leicestershire v Essex, Grace Road, 1st day May 16, 2012

Sarwan sends West Indies reminder

Leicestershire 323 for 5 (Sarwan 117, Cobb 80, Masters 4-57) v Essex

Ramnaresh Sarwan gave the West Indies selectors a timely reminder of his Test credentials with a second century of the season for Leicestershire on the first day of their Championship match against Essex at Grace Road.

The 31-year-old was the star of the show as Leicestershire fought back after a nightmare start to reach 323 for 5 by the close. Sarwan, who shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 216 with Josh Cobb, batted for just over five hours for his 117. It added up to a fine recovery by Leicestershire, who slumped to 29 for 3 in the 10th over with Will Jefferson out to the first ball of the day in his first game of the season following a back injury.

David Masters found the edge of Jefferson's bat with his first delivery and Tom Westley took the catch at slip. When Matthew Boyce was then bowled by Masters, and Greg Smith had his stumps spread-eagled by Charl Willoughby, it began to look as though the home side had made a big mistake deciding to bat after winning the toss.

But Sarwan and Cobb turned the game on its head with their magnificent stand. It was a record for the fourth wicket for Leicestershire against Essex, beating the previous best of 127 set back in 1900. They were helped by some erratic bowling from the Essex attack that saw 48 extras pile up. Tymal Mills, the highly rated England Under-19 fast bowler, twice bowled no-balls that went to the boundary over the head of wicketkeeper James Foster.

There was also some superb strokeplay from Sarwan and Cobb, who both combined enterprising attack with disciplined defence. The impressive Sarwan completed his century just before tea. It came off 154 balls and contained 14 boundaries. The stand was finally broken by Masters, who lured Cobb into skying a catch to deep midwicket.

Masters, by far the best of the Essex bowlers, then trapped Sarwan lbw with the second new ball to finish the day with figures of 4 for 57 off 25 overs. Wayne White was still there at the close on 41 not out to leave Leicestershire in a strong position.