Essex County Cricket Club: Essex on the brink as Lancashire take charge

By Brian Jeeves in Cricket

Essex v Lancashire

Specsavers County Championship Division One - Day-three

By Brian Jeeves

Lancashire 319 & 317/3d

Essex 159 & 89/2 (38.0 overs)

Essex require another 389 runs with 8 wickets remaining

ESSEX will go into the fourth day of their Specsavers County Championship Division One match with Lancashire knowing they will most probable need to bat out the day to save the match.

Lancs, who already held a 160-run first innings lead, piled on the runs as the home side failed to make any significant inroads with the ball. Alex Davies posted his maiden first-class century, eventually finishing unbeaten on 140, while Dane Vilas hit 92 as the visitor’s posted 317/3d a lead of 477.

Essex, who had been reduced to just 159 in their first innings, continued to struggle with the bat. Nick Browne found himself back in the pavilion, caught by Haseeb Hameed off the bowling of stephen Parry for 18, while Varun Chopra was bowled by Ryan McLaren for 29 as Essex finished the day on 89/2, trailing by 389 runs.

Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate admitted: “There is no glossing over it, it has been tough. We haven’t started the way we wanted to. But as gruelling as it has been, there is a feeling we’re not far off where we want to be.

“We were expecting a few induction problems, if you want to call it that. But today I thought we bounced back really well in the last 40 overs. Even though we only got three wickets the lads ran in and toiled all day, which is another positive.

“Day one was going almost too well, we kept taking wickets and we were there or thereabouts. We were on the front foot. But then we had a tough third session followed by a tough day two. So, yes, it’s tougher than we expected. But it’s underway now and we know what’s expected. There have been a few teething problems, but the sooner we learn the better.”

Lancashire’s centurion Alex Davies had to fight back from 11 months out of the game with a knee injury that required an operation during the winter.

He said: “There were a couple of dark moments during that time. But you have to stay positive and have belief in your own ability, belief that you will get back fit, that you will get back playing.

“It was tough to watch Lancs last season and see people move ahead of me. But I had that belief deep down, the hunger, and that will stand me in good stead.

“Yes, there are days when you think, ‘I’m injured’ and you get down on yourself. But deep down it’s always been there and hopefully there is plenty more to come.

“But this was really amazing and it’s good to get it off my back really. I’ve had a lot of chances in the past and not quite got over the line. It’s just another day, but a really special one at the same time.”

Head coach Glen Chapple told Davies during the winter that he would be both No1 wicketkeeper and opening batsman. “I love it,” he said. “I want to bat higher, I don’t want to be the keeper who bats seven. I want to bat higher because I believe I can. It fits best for the team at the moment that I open the batting, and if it’s best for the team it’s good for me.”

Davies went to lunch 97 not out. He admitted: “I could have chased it before lunch, but I made the decision that I was going to sit in there and not give my wicket away. I prepared myself that I was going to be in my 90s over lunch. There is nothing you can do then, just eat your lunch and try and relax as best you can. And get the three runs when you go out.

“I did have that 99 against Kent in my mind for a while before this, but once you are in that situation all you can do is concentrate and watch the ball and play the best you can.”

Lancashire 6pts Essex 3pts

Play resumes on Monday at 11am.

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