Walker resists as Essex struggle
Essex 209 for 7 trail Hampshire 300 by 91 runs
James Tomlinson took three wickets as Hampshire seized the upper hand in their County Championship Division One clash with Essex at the Rose Bowl. The hosts added only two runs to their overnight 298 for 7 as Maurice Chambers snared the last three wickets, including veteran Dominic Cork for 55, to finish with figures of 5 for 49. But Essex slipped to 209 for 7 in reply as Matt Walker was left to lead the resistance with an unbeaten 60.
Cork made the initial breakthroughs, removing Jaik Mickleburgh for 21 with the help of wicketkeeper Nic Pothas to leave the visitors 51 for 1 at lunch. Tom Westley had been Mickleburgh's partner in an opening stand of 48, but became Cork's second victim via a sharp return catch at knee height.
There followed a stand of 62 between Ravi Bopara and Walker, the latter taking the stand beyond 50 with a six off Danny Briggs. But Tomlinson then stepped up to make an impact, with Bopara cover-driving loosely to provide Pothas with his second routine catch of the innings.
The in-form Ryan ten Doeschate quickly followed, trapped lbw for just six to leave his side 135 for 5 by tea. A rash swing by Walker off the bowling of Briggs sent the ball looping just out of Jimmy Adams' reach, but the miss did not prove costly as Briggs soon got his reward with the wicket of keeper James Foster, clean bowled for a painstaking 14 by a ball that kept low.
Mark Pettini lasted just two balls before tamely prodding into the hands of Neil McKenzie to help Briggs towards figures of 2 for 33. Walker reached his half-century from 126 balls but saw David Masters nick a second catch to McKenzie in the slips after making 15, leaving Tomlinson with 3 for 51.
Graham Napier took his side to their first batting point with a cover drive for four but otherwise reined in his attacking inclinations to reach an unbeaten nine by the close. With only Chambers and Danish Kaneria to come, much depends on Napier and Walker as Essex look to cut the deficit tomorrow.