Browne digs in after Glamorgan opt for safety-first declaration
Essex 313 (Westley 80, Bopara 80, van der Gugten 5-90) and 160 for 5 (Browne 71) drew with Glamorgan 260 (Cook 63, Napier 5-82) and 386 for 8 dec (Bragg 161*, Cook 59, Donald 55)
A game that was nicely poised going into the final day petered out into a draw as Essex successfully negotiated the 63 overs that were bowled in their second innings, finishing on 160 for 5. Glamorgan had batted on in the morning session to set Essex an unlikely victory target of 334 in 70 overs. On a pitch where free-scoring has been difficult throughout this match, a required rate of nearly five an over was always beyond Essex, but Glamorgan went for a safety-first approach.
When Essex began their chase just before the lunch break, Timm van der Gugten had early success, claiming the wicket of Jaik Mickleburgh with the score on 12. The Dutch international followed that up with another wicket shortly after the interval when he found the edge of Tom Westley's bat to leave Essex in trouble at 30 for 2.
When Michael Hogan had Ravi Bopara well caught by Aneurin Donald at second slip Essex were 46 for 3 and Glamorgan were dreaming of their first win in the County Championship since June 22, 2015.
While there were wickets tumbling at the other end, Essex opener Nick Browne remained unmoved. He did a fine job at playing the ball late and with soft hands so that the edges did not carry to the slips as he made an excellent 71 before he was dismissed by Graham Wagg bowling left-arm spin. Browne put on a decent stand with Daniel Lawrence who played with more freedom than any other Essex batsman before he was bowled for 24 by a ball from Hogan that he left alone.
When Lawrence and Browne had departed, Jesse Ryder and Ryan ten Doeschate came to the crease and closed the game out for a draw. Ryder played with uncharacteristic restraint as he scored just 25 runs from 83 balls.
Glamorgan had batted in the morning session but took a while to get going, Will Bragg looking to pass his highest first-class score of 129 that he made against Derbyshire earlier in the season and Aneurin Donald looking for his second Championship fifty of 2016. Once both men had passed those landmarks there was an injection of impetus but the declaration did not come until 20 minutes before the lunch break.
There was a hint of over-cautiousness in the length of time that Glamorgan batted but, with the struggles they have had so far this season, it was perhaps understandable that they went for a "first don't lose" approach rather than something more aggressive. In reality, even another 20 overs at Essex would have most likely not been enough to force a win on a pitch that, for all of its faults, has held together well.
Bragg finished on a career-best 161 not out, his second hundred of the season, as he and Donald completed the third century stand of the Glamorgan innings.