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Essex openers lay perfect platform

Leicestershire CCC

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Jaik Mickelburgh and Tom Westley batted through a rain-interrupted opening day to put Essex in control of their LV= County Championship Division Two match against Leicestershire at Chelmsford.

The hosts closed on 161 without loss from 57 overs, with Mickelburgh and Westley having shared Essex’s first century partnership for the opening wicket this summer after James Foster had won the toss.

Although play started on time, rain soon interrupted proceedings and only 8.3 overs and 18 runs were possible before tea.

Tom Westley

Leicestershire's bowlers were unable to oust Tom Westley, pictured, or Jaik Mickelburgh on a rain-interrupted opening day at Chelmsford

Both batsmen continued in fine form after the resumption, rarely experiencing an anxious moment and penetrating the field with some well-executed drives on both sides of the wicket and the occasional square cut.

The tempo was set early on as Westley and Mickelburgh took boundaries off Nathan Buck on a pitch that lacked pace.

Mickleburgh, appearing in only his third championship match of the season, was first to his half-century, from 58 balls, and reached the landmark with an on-driven six at the expense of left-arm spinner Claude Henderson.

In the bowler’s next over, Westley swept through square-leg to take the total into three figures, and soon after he collected a single to bring up his own fifty.

At that stage, he had faced 126 deliveries and struck half-a-dozen fours, yet he soon enjoyed a slice of luck when an attempted pull fell just short of diving wicketkeeper Paul Dixey.

Aside from that one scare, Westley once again showed his liking for the Leicestershire attack, having recorded 81 - his highest championship score of the season thus far - when the teams met earlier in the campaign at Grace Road.

Leicestershire used six bowlers in their unsuccessful attempts to initiate a breakthrough and the signs are that they will face plenty of hard work to make significant inroads.

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