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Centurions hurt Essex

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Dan Housego and Hamish Marshall batted their way into the record books as Gloucestershire reached 300 for three on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division Two clash with Essex.

Both struck centuries at Chelmsford, in the process overtaking the previous highest fourth-wicket partnership for Gloucestershire against Essex - a record which had stood for 106 years.

They have so far put on 229, beating the 153-run stand featuring Gilbert Jessop and Tom Langdon at Leyton in 1907.

Housego will resume tomorrow on 124 having so far recorded a career-best first-class score and maiden championship century for Gloucestershire, while Marshall will seek to add to his 120 not out.

Hamish Marshall

Hamish Marshall, pictured, and Dan Housego struck centuries as Gloucestershire enjoyed dominance on the first day versus Essex

The day started promisingly enough for Essex after they had won the toss thanks to the efforts of David Masters.

He has carried the attack over the last few seasons and was soon making his presence felt with two early wickets.

Once again, the 34-year-old demonstrated the value of a good line and length and that, combined with his ability to move the ball away, soon accounted for Chris Dent as an edge was snaffled by James Foster.

Soon after, Gloucestershire captain Michael Klinger was on his way back to the pavilion, also a victim of Masters - this time from a wider delivery he had no need to play.

Tymal Mills proved swift enough to force batsmen into taking evasive action on a few occasions but was found wanting when it came to discovering a consistent length.

The same could be said of Maurice Chambers and it was left to medium-pacer Ravi Bopara to claim the third Gloucestershire wicket in his first over.

He lured Alex Gidman forward to have him lbw; however, by then, Housego looked assured and was to find outstanding support from New Zealander Marshall.

As the pitch flattened out, they never looked in the slightest trouble in defying six bowlers to score 118 in the afternoon session.

The pair remained in total control throughout the final session, coping comfortably with the new ball as Essex strove unsuccessfully for another breakthrough.

Marshall was first to his century in 159 balls, with 13 fours in addition to an upper-cut six, while Housego required 224 deliveries to move into three figures with the aid of 13 fours.

Both made progress with some sweet drives and the ease with which they gathered runs on an increasingly docile pitch suggested batsmen would continue to prosper.

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