Brooks to the fore
Jack Brooks celebrated his England Lions call-up with a devastating spell as Northamptonshire reduced Essex to 54 for six at stumps on day two of their LV= County Championship Division Two match at Chelmsford.
The 27-year-old paceman has so far collected 4-22 from nine overs, including the wicket of England batsman Ravi Bopara.
Following yesterday’s washout, the match did not begin until 4.50pm BST, but Brooks did not waste too much time embarking on his destructive course after the visitors predictably inserted their rivals upon winning the toss.
Essex started encouragingly enough as Billy Godleman and Alviro Petersen moved into the seventh over with 15 on the board. But, after Chaminda Vaas had Petersen prodding into the hands of David Sales at second slip, Brooks took over.
In his fourth over, Godleman got an inside edge on to his stumps and Brooks could quite easily have had Bopara with his next ball. He found enough movement off the seam to induce an edge and Bopara was fortunate to see the ball drop just short of Alex Wakely at third slip.
It was not fielded cleanly and Bopara scampered a single but, with the final delivery of the over, Tom Westley was despatched lbw without scoring.
Adam Wheater went the same way to a ball well pitched up before Bopara was bowled for six without offering a stroke.
Brooks’ four wickets had arrived in 18 deliveries at a personal cost of nine runs and left Essex in dire straits, with half their side back in the pavilion for only 25.
He was withdrawn from the attack soon afterwards, giving way to Lee Daggett. But there was little respite for Essex as the visitors were soon celebrating their sixth success.
With the total on 40, David Willey, who had taken over from Vaas, struck in his second over when he breached the defences of Greg Smith for five.
That left Essex relying very much on Mark Pettini and James Foster, the last of the recognised batsmen, if they were to post a total approaching a semblance of respectability.
To their credit, they lived to fight another day - even denying Brooks when he returned for another over late on.
Pettini reached the close on 16 - the only batsman so far to have made double-figures - in an effort spanning 49 testing deliveries.
He will resume in the morning with his captain, Foster, who has amassed eight from 26 balls.
Northants were again without skipper Andrew Hall due to a calf injury, Sales continuing to lead in his absence.