Essex 92 for 2 (Browne 50*) trail Glamorgan 134 (Snater 6-39) by 42 runs
Dan Lawrence got some useful red-ball practice before heading to The Oval later this week to join up with the England squad as he helped steer Essex into a commanding position on day one of their LV= County Championship Division Two match at Sophia Gardens.
Returning to the venue where they had been beaten by five wickets by Glamorgan in the semi-final of the Royal London Cup earlier this month, Essex reduced the home side to 59 for 6 by lunch and got them all out for 134, Shane Snater taking 6 for 39.
Lawrence, named in the England squad for the fourth Test against India on Thursday, enjoyed an unbeaten partnership of 51 for the third wicket after the visitors had lost Alastair Cook and skipper Tom Westley early in their first innings reply. Lawrence batted steadily for his 29 off 78 balls in 104 minutes at the crease. When bad light ended play 10 minutes early, Essex were only 42 ruins behind with eight wickets in hand.
Glamorgan skipper Chris Cooke won the toss and decided to bat. It was a decision he was to rue when he found his side languishing, six down after 30 overs.
New Zealand international opener Hamish Rutherford crashed two boundaries off Jamie Porter's opening over, but he soon lost his partner. Back from Hundred duty with the Welsh Fire, David Lloyd lasted four balls before he was caught in the slips by Simon Harmer off Sam Cook.
That brought Steve Reingold to the crease for his Championship debut and he helped to push the score along to a more respectable 39 for 1. Then Snater took centre stage and completely transformed the shape of the game with a devastating spell of seam bowling from the River End after being introduced into the attack in the 11th over.
He conceded eight runs in his opening over as Rutherford hit him to the boundary with consecutive balls, but hit back to twice take two wickets in an over as Glamorgan tumbled to 57 for 5. He had Reingold caught in the slips by Harmer with the first delivery of his second over and three balls later trapped Billy Root lbw without scoring.
That brought in Kiran Carlson, the man who skippered Glamorgan to their Royal London Cup triumph over Durham at Trent Bridge, and he looked very comfortable as he stroked three boundaries to go through 800 first-class runs for the season.
He was undone by the first ball of Snater's fourth over, however, caught low down at first clip by Cook, and four balls later Glamorgan lost their captain as Cooke shouldered arms to a delivery that cut back and hit his off stump.
In his next over, Snater snapped up the key wicket of Rutherford for 31 as Michael Pepper picked up a bat-pad catch at short leg to make it 57 for 6. Glamorgan limped to lunch without losing any more wickets, although Dan Douthwaite was lucky to survive a low slip catch to Harmer off Snater, and faced an uphill task in the second session.
A boundary apiece from Andrew Salter and Douthwaite offered some promise, but when Salter skied a chance to Lawrence at deep mid-on off Harmer in the 34th over the home side were 69 for 7. But Douthwaite and Lukas Carey put on 46 for the ninth wicket, with the former hitting eight boundaries in his 39. Carey's final flourish included two sixes and four fours in a very welcome 29 as Snater mopped up the tail.
Essex lost former England skipper Cook in the second over when he was caught behind for a third-ball duck and were 41 for 2 when wicketkeeper Cooke held onto a nick from Westley. Nick Browne went on to reach his 50 in 125 balls as he dropped anchor for the visitors.