Foster 82 keeps Chelmsford festive
Essex 268 for 8 (Foster 82, ten Doeschate 77, Kerrigan 2-62) v Lancashire
It's City of Chelmsford Festival Week, and a good size crowd turned up in the hope of seeing some festival cricket. What they saw was an absorbing day of largely attritional play during which the advantage fluctuated between the sides, but there was little festive about it.
One Simon Kerrigan over in mid-afternoon was a miniature of the big picture of the day. Ryan ten Doeschate lofted a big six over Simon Katich at long on, then tried to do it again and Katich took a straightforward catch.
When Glen Chapple won the toss and chose to bowl he would have taken scores of 13 for 3 and 72 for 5, and he got them thanks to a morning of sustained excellence from his seam attack. But ten Doeschate and Essex captain James Foster led a recovery, as their side dominated the afternoon session.
Chapple himself and Kyle Hogg bowled unchanged through the first hour and were such a handful that the top three totalled 11. Hogg bowls from very close to the stumps and was pacey and accurate, rarely giving the batsmen anything they could leave. At the River End Chapple found swing and nip off the pitch.
Jaik Mickleburgh cut Hogg handsomely for four, then promptly edged him to third slip. Tom Westley could only manage 2 before Hogg trapped him on the crease, and one of those was an overthrow following a direct hit from a throw by Simon Katich as the batsmen took a quick single. Third to go was Hamish Rutherford, who was making his County Championship debut, caught behind off Chapple.
As soon as Owais Shah arrived in the middle to face Lancashire's second string seamers, batting began to look easier. But having got himself in he missed a straight ball from Luke Procter and things were looking rocky again.
It fell to ten Doeschate and Foster to repair the damage and that's what, in contrasting styles, they set about doing. Ten Doeschate was assertive and played powerful shots, while his captain was all busy footwork and strokeplay. It was only when Doeschate's doomed second attempt to clear Simon Katich on the boundary that brought the partnership of 95 runs to an end.
Foster received valuable support from Graham Napier and then Saj Mahmood, who was in a mood to swing the bat, while he continued to accumulate at the other end. But shortly before rain and bad light had the players leaving the field, Foster's resistance ended.
Although the early damage was done by the quick men, the bowling performance of the day was provided by the much-admired left arm spinner Kerrigan. Chapple threw him the ball for the first time a few minutes before lunch, and he bowled 23 economical overs in the day. Kerrigan uses flight and guile as well as spin, and it was flight that finally did for Foster, luring him into a shot that had him lbw.
Given the start they had, Essex are likely to be content with a score which puts them in the game.