Ten Doeschate and Foster rip contest from Northants' grasp
Northamptonshire 444 and 56 for 4 (Duckett 33) trail Essex 640 (ten Doeschate 145, Foster 113, Mickleburgh 103, Westley 69, Bopara 58) by 140 runs
Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster made sparkling centuries in a record seventh-wicket stand as Essex pressed for victory against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road. The home side closed day three creaking on 56 for 4, trailing by 140 in their second-innings.
Both ten Doeschate and Foster had only one half-century each in the County Championship this season but came out with great intent to haul the match Essex's way with a huge first-innings total of 640.
Northamptonshire retained a foothold in the game for the first session and a half but by tea, they were facing another second-innings of batting out for a draw after conceding a first-innings lead of 196.
Second time around in 19 overs to the close, they suffered a top-order calamity. Rob Newton fell lbw to Matt Quinn in the third over for a duck and Rob Keogh lbw to Ravi Bopara for 10. Josh Cobb was bowled by Quinn for a golden duck and when Ben Duckett went to sweep Ashar Zaidi's first ball and was caught at short leg, Northants were 51 for 4 and staring at defeat.
Essex's victory push was set up by two outstanding centuries. Batting has been largely straightforward at Wantage Road this season and some large totals have been scored but the progress ten Doeschate and Foster made put everything else in the shade. Coming together with Essex still 22 runs behind, they added 215 in just 31.4 overs - a record seventh-wicket stand for Essex against Northamptonshire.
The best aspect of the stand was the running between the wickets, a lesson in the art from two batsman in their mid-30s. They scampered for every run available, pushing the fielders hard. Ironically, the stand was ended when ten Doeschate was run out by Steven Crook from mid-off.
Ten Doeschate was typically busy and manoeuvred the bowling around with ease and found 10 fours and two sixes in his 14th first-class century for Essex, brought up before tea, After the second break, Foster joined his captain in 85 balls, eight fours and three sixes.
The pair completely wrested control of the game from Northants, who had kept themselves in contention after a decent morning session. But after lunch they took just one wicket - a session that yielded 215 runs.
The game remained even after a steady morning where Essex added 83 runs for the loss of three wickets, claiming a fourth batting point in the process.
Tom Wesley's fine form in 2016 continued with a sixth fifty of the season in 92 balls with seven fours. He was the first wicket to fall in the morning, caught down the leg side by Murphy, giving Richard Gleeson a third wicket of the innings. It ended a stand of 122 for the third wicket with Bopara who went past his third half-century this year in 107 balls with seven boundaries of his own before falling lbw to Crook's second over of the morning for 58.
But Northamptonshire's catching problems continued as two more chances went down in the morning session - bring the total to five drops in the innings. Westley was shelled by Murphy on 46, costing 23 runs, and Dan Lawrence was missed at third slip by Crook on 7 - Ollie Stone denied for the third time.