Yorkshire 208 (Harmer 5-76) and 38 for 3 trail Essex 328 (Westley 81, ten Doeschate 70*) by 82 runs
"It's not all about me," Simon Harmer might have pleaded on a day when others contributed significantly to Essex's commanding position at Chelmsford. But at least symbolically it was because when Harmer had Tom Kohler-Cadmore lbw with a sharply turning short ball minutes before the close it emphasised the extent of the challenge that lies ahead for Yorkshire.
Kohler-Cadmore out on the pull should not be a surprise for all those vaguely aware of the WhatsApp group which found such disfavour with the ECB (he was fined £2000 and given a retrospective ban last week).
But Harmer has been plucking wickets all season with the craving of a blackbird tearing at a cherry tree. Feeding time will resume around 11 o'clock in the morning.
When he made good use of his four overs at the tail-end of the day, drawing regular turn from a dry surface, it left Yorkshire 38 for 3 at stumps, still 82 runs behind, and needing somehow to add substance to the expected platitudes that they can still win the game.
Essex have outdone them in all aspects. They have also fielded the more impressive pace attack. Peter Siddle chipped out two new-ball wickets - swinging one through the gate to bowl Will Fraine and then having Gary Ballance caught at the wicket, the excellence of the ball only outdone by the quality of Adam Wheater's diving catch in front of first slip. Jamie Porter is forever dangerous at Chelmsford and the young livewire Aaron Beard is in the best form of his career, swinging the ball away at a fullish length and a decent pace.
They also batted with far more resilience than Yorkshire to build a first-innings lead of 120. Tom Westley's 81 was his highest score of the season and Ryan ten Doeschate's unbeaten 70 was only his second Championship score of note this season.
Yorkshire's short-term overseas signing, the South Africa left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, faced a formidable challenge in having to rival Harmer's exploits. He rounded up Essex's first innings with two wickets in two balls. The dismissal of Beard, bowled for 41, and Porter, caught at slip first ball, gave him highly respectable figures of 36-11-93-3. In exerting such control, he had done a job that no other Yorkshire spinner could do. It is just that you could argue that it was the wrong job.
He succeeded more as a holding spinner not an attacking spinner and on the sort of pitches Essex seek to create for Harmer, an attacking option is what you need. If you exclude one of ten Doeschate's two straight sixes, which was a bit offside-ish, Maharaj did not concede a single boundary on the off side. He conceded eight more leg-side boundaries as Essex milked the region throughout the innings without much threat to their outside edge.
Where Yorkshire had played skittishly in making 208, adopting the attitude that they must make their runs while they could, Essex approached their task in a more disciplined fashion.
The challenge of Essex's batsmen is to make runs on a home turf that is proving so problematic for opposing batsmen. Sir Alastair Cook has led the way in that this season. Westley, who has resisted overtures from Kent to sign a new three-year contract, came good and Rishi Patel deserved commendation for the way he sweated 124 balls over 35.
It was a circumspect morning. Essex added only 71 runs in 32 overs and Westley needed nearly half-an-hour to add to his overnight 52. But Essex's serious intent was apparent. They ground out a stand of 68 in 38 overs, at which point Patel placed Matt Fisher into the hands of short midwicket who had been placed there for that eventuality.
Even so, Yorkshire make inroads with the second new ball - Westley had fallen lbw to Duanne Olivier just before it was due - and at 22 for 7, a 14-run lead, Essex were vulnerable. It was then that ten Doeschate delivered. He had been struggling for runs since his century against Surrey at Kia Oval in the second round of matches and his regaining of form is yet another reason to anticipate that Essex will push Somerset deep into September - perhaps until the last match at Taunton - for the title.