Bopara back with a bang
Ravi Bopara confirmed his recovery from a thigh injury with a brilliant 120 not out as Essex easily beat Gloucestershire to claim their first Clydesdale Bank 40 Group A victory of the season.
Bopara has been out for three weeks yet was soon showing that his lay-off had not affected him.
From the moment he walked out to open the innings, he took charge via a succession of superbly-timed drives and, with Tom Westley striking the ball equally well at the other end, it soon became clear that Gloucestershire's total of 224 for five was not nearly enough.
The pair had come together after Mark Pettini's departure in the first over, when he was caught at slip off Ian Saxelby without a run on the board, and went on to put together a partnership of 185.
That was broken when Westley's enterprising knock of 82 from 99 balls, nine of which he dispatched to the boundary, ended as he was stumped off Will Gidman.
But Bopara, who reached his fifty with a straight-driven six off left-arm spinner Ed Young, went on to complete his century from 91 deliveries, with two sixes and eight fours, before adding another four boundaries as Essex secured victory with 19 balls to spare.
Like Essex, the visitors had also seen their openers separated in the first over when Graham Napier breached the defences of Gidman, a dismissal that put them firmly on the back foot.
It was not until the 14th over that the 50 was raised, before which Hamish Marshall was beaten for pace and bowled by Tymal Mills.
So pedestrian was Gloucestershire's progress that they needed 27 overs to move the total into three figures.
But Kane Williamson and Ian Cockbain were to inject much-needed life into the innings with a fifth-wicket stand of 85 in 11 overs.
It ended when Williamson was caught behind by James Foster off David Masters for 77, which came from 73 deliveries and contained seven fours and a six.
Cockbain and Jack Taylor maintained the tempo over the remaining four overs, the former finishing unbeaten on 52 from 44 balls with a six among his four boundaries.
Taylor's 22 not out came off a dozen deliveries and ensured a respectable, if not demanding, total.