Essex v Glamorgan, Chelmsford, 2nd day June 2, 2014

Foster remains in mint form

Ryan Bailey in Chelmsford

Glamorgan 244 (Bragg 93, Cooke 68, Topley 6-41) and 0 for 0 trail Essex 280 (Foster 86, Pettini 51, Hogan 3-76, Wagg 3-59) by 36 runs
Scorecard

An abrupt swing in momentum manufactured by an innings, dare it be suggested, of international quality, from James Foster might just prove to be the decisive juncture in an otherwise tight contest as Essex and Glamorgan have fought for supremacy.

As Essex lost three for 14 after tea - slipping to 198 for 8 - they faced the proposition of surrendering a first innings deficit on the back of a limp batting performance. But, just as Glamorgan had done in the afternoon session, the home side managed to wrestle back the ascendancy through the efforts of a man who must regard his renewed mentions as a potential England wicketkeeper somewhat wryly.

That Essex found themselves with a slight advantage at the close of the second day was down to their captain. As the majority of his teammates struggled to negate a slow surface and Glamorgan's nagging attack, Foster exhibited all the qualities that have seen him talked about once more as a potential England call-up.

While his expertise behind the stumps renders such theories wholly justifiable, his batting has got better with age. Having taken a dozen deliveries to get off the mark and further time to become fully acquainted with conditions, he quickened his tempo exquisitely. Alongside Mark Pettini, the pair halted Glamorgan's post-lunch charge with a steady, if unspectacular, partnership. But when Pettini fell shortly after a half-century of his own, Foster was in danger of becoming stranded at the other end.

At that juncture, he broke the shackles and flaunted his vast array of shots. He brought up his fifty with a picture-perfect inside-out shot over extra cover and with Reece Topley battling in nothing-gets-past-me mode at the other end, the pair put on 63 for the ninth wicket which saw Essex surpass Glamorgan's first innings total of 244.

That Foster received a standing ovation from the Chelmsford faithful having attempted to hook Michael Hogan to the leg side boundary - falling fourteen runs short of a century - underlined the worth of an innings that broke the back of Glamorgan's own assault.

Had it not been for Foster's exploits, the situation could have been a whole lot different. Having learnt the lessons from a morning session during which Jesse Ryder briefly entertained with a typically aggressive cameo, Glamorgan successfully altered their line and length in conditions that aided the seamers.

Hogan produced a near unplayable delivery - one that pitched on leg, seamed and clipped the top off Ryder's off stump - after Graham Wagg had rearranged Greg Smith's furniture from around the wicket.

As Monty Panesar watched proceedings from the pavilion, despite reports he was to play for the 2nd XI today, a fellow left-arm tweaker would have given him plenty of food for thought. Dean Cosker extracted turn and bounce from Wagg's foot holes at the Hays Close End and was threatening throughout in a spell that had Pettini caught at leg slip and Tom Craddock lbw second ball. That, however, only brought Topley and Foster together to form an unlikely alliance.

With a variable forecast for the final two days, the outcome of this game may yet be decided by the weather but in Foster, the Chelmsford crowd have a messiah of their own.

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