Wright and Palladino skittle Durham
Essex 268 and 103 for 1 v Durham 177
Chris Wright and Tony Palladino produced their best figures of the season as relegation-haunted Essex carved out a first-innings lead of 91 against Durham at Chelmsford. Wright claimed 5 for 70 and his new-ball colleague Palladino 4 for 57 as the visitors were bowled out for 177.
By the close Essex had moved to 103 for 1 in their second innings, thanks largely to an unbeaten 61 from Alastair Cook, to go into the third day with an overall advantage of 194.
After Liam Plunket had claimed the final Essex wicket in the morning to bowl them out for 268, Durham suffered a horrendous start to their reply. They lost their first four wickets for only five runs as Wright and Palladino each claimed a couple.
Swing rather than seam proved the batsmen's undoing but it was never as pronounced as the early clatter of wickets suggested. A recovery of sorts stemmed from the efforts of the middle order, with Ben Harmison playing the leading role.
First he shared in a fifth wicket stand of 53 with Ian Blackwell, who made 24, before the latter's defences were breached by Palladino, and then Phil Mustard scored 31 in a stand of 45 before the same bowler struck again.
When Wright removed both Scott Borthwick and Plunket, Durham found themselves 108 for 8 and still 11 runs short of being asked to follow on. But the arrival of Mitch Claydon quickly ended such fears as they proceeded to put together the highest partnership of the innings.
It yielded 62 before Harmison, after reaching a season's best 66 that included eight boundaries, provided young paceman Michael Comber with the first Championship wicket of his career by driving into the hands of Wright at mid-off.
Wright then got rid of Chris Rushworth to complete his five-wicket haul to ensure Essex went in again with a substantial advantage, one that was built upon in confident style by Cook.
Although he lost Billy Godleman, his opening partner, soon after the lead had been stretched into three figures, Cook batted with a confident air to complete his half century from 78 balls with the help of seven boundaries. Keeping him company was 20-year-old Jaik Mickleburgh who again batted with fine composure to reach the close on 31. The partnership has so far produced 74.