Westley, Bopara help Essex eke out lead
Essex 300 for 9 (Westley 80, Bopara 80) lead Glamorgan 260 (Cooke 63, Napier 5-82) by 40 runs
Scores of 80 from Tom Westley and Ravi Bopara allowed Essex to gain a useful first-innings lead on the second day of the County Championship match against Glamorgan. Westley further extended his lead at the top of the first-class run scoring charts and Bopara made his highest score of the season as Essex reached 300 for 9 at the close.
Glamorgan bowled well throughout the day and every Essex batsman had to scrap for runs on a surface that has lost the verdant green from day one but which still had plenty in it if you put the ball in the right areas. Netherlands seamer Timm van der Gugten was particularly impressive for the hosts, finishing the day with figures of 4 for 77, his best return for Glamorgan to date.
"It is quite a nice wicket to bowl on if you hit the right areas and if you bowl well enough for long enough you will get the rewards. I think as a team we bowled well today," van der Gugten said. "They didn't score more than two-and-a-half runs an over all day I think that was testament to how we bowled.
"We always felt that if we grabbed a couple of wickets we would be on top. And we stayed patient and grabbed a couple and hopefully we can grab the last one tomorrow. If we can bat for an extended period of time and set them a decent total for the last day I think it will be tough for them to chase it down, especially if we bowl like we did today."
While van der Gugten claimed the spoils, Michael Hogan was unlucky not to have more than his two victims as he bowled 11 maidens in the day and passed the bat regularly throughout.
Westley and Bopara were both watchful at the crease, both men realising that the key to success on a Cardiff surface that has subtle yet significant variations in bounce was to be patient, just as it was for the bowlers. It was far harder for a new man starting out than it was for someone who was well set.
A flurry of wickets after tea that saw Essex go from 233 for 4 to 254 for 7 in the space of five overs left Glamorgan thinking of ending the innings with a manageable deficit. An excellent and unbeaten counterattacking 43 from Ryan ten Doeschate helped lift Essex beyond Glamorgan to finish the day with a lead as the Essex captain did an excellent job of marshalling the tail. In combination with last man Jamie Porter, ten Doescarte pushed Essex's innings up to 300, but not quickly enough to claim a third batting point.
The lead is already a significant one on this pitch, and Essex will be hoping that they can eke out a few more before the final wicket falls. For Glamorgan they will be looking for a better batting effort and will hope that the surface deteriorates enough that batting last will be hard work.