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  • Specsavers County Championship 7m

    Bopara & Foster tons fire Essex

    Ravi Bopara and James Foster both hit emotional centuries on a busy day in Division One

    Middlesex tore into Yorkshire at Lord's, there were emotional centuries for Ravi Bopara and James Foster at Essex while Lancashire climbed up towards Hampshire's first innings total on another sun-soaked day in Division One...

    Essex 541/9d v Warwickshire 60/2
    Lancashire 276/5 v Hampshire 395
    Middlesex 446 v Yorkshire 186/9

    Essex v Warwickshire

    Ravi Bopara and James Foster both collected long-awaited and emotional centuries after compiling a record sixth-wicket stand of 229 as Essex kept Warwickshire in the field for more than five sessions at a sweltering Chelmsford.

    Bopara had gone nearly three years without a Specsavers County Championship ton to his name; by the time he was out just after tea, having batted for eight hours, he was within eight runs of a double-century.

    Foster was even more demonstrative when he reached his first three-figure total for nearly 13 months – he leapt in the air and pumped his fist three times in the direction of the home changing room. It was a perfect repost after he had been ousted from wicketkeeping duties for the first four Championship games of the season by the return to the county of Adam Wheater.

    Foster’s 66-over stand with Bopara was a record for an Essex sixth-wicket against Warwickshire – beating the 140 by Keith Fletcher and Allan Border at Edgbaston in 1988. It enabled the Division One leaders to declare five overs post-tea, just after the third new-ball had been taken, on 541 for nine.

    By the close, Warwickshire were 56 for two, still 332 short of their follow-on target as they attempt to avoid a fourth innings defeat in seven Championship matches this summer.

    Bopara’s previous century had been completed on July 1, 2014, against Gloucestershire, also at Chelmsford, and he had three times been out in the nineties, twice of 99, in the last 12 months alone. A few minutes before noon yesterday he clipped Jeetan Patel past backward point for the single that took him to the 27th first-class century of his career.

    At that point he had been at the crease for 221 balls. When he went to a tired-looking heave-ho against Patel 158 balls later, playing all around it, he had hit 16 fours and three sixes, two of them straight and long from part-time spinner Andrew Umeed’s only over.

    Foster, meanwhile, had not claimed a century since his 113 against Northamptonshire last May, but outscored Bopara for much of their time together. He brushed off a nasty blow to the side of his helmet from a Boyd Rankin bouncer by hooking Rikki Clarke for the four that took him to a 159-ball century. By the time he was caught at wide mid-on by a tumbling Keith Barker for 121, he had faced 182 balls and hit 16 fours and a towering six over long-leg.

    After Foster’s departure, Warwickshire claimed three wickets for 32 as the Essex tail joined Bopara in adding quick runs towards the declaration. Sunny Singh raced in from the long-on boundary to dismiss Paul Walter for a bright 16 before trapping Simon Harmer lbw. Patel bowled Bopara to claim his fourth wicket in a marathon spell of 45 overs and season’s best figures of four for 138. Neil Wagner’s 25-ball cameo at the end left him 24 not out.

    That it is fast becoming Bopara’s match was made apparent when his underarm throw from short extra cover accounted for opener Andrew Umeed to make the first dent in Warwickshire’s response. Five overs, and three runs later, Alastair Cook snapped up Ian Westwood low down at slip to give Harmer his 20th Championship wicket since the former South African Test spinner’s arrival on a Kolpak contract in the spring.

    Lancashire v Hampshire

    Alex Davies’ third championship century of the season and an unbeaten 76  by Dane Vilas enabled Lancashire to recover from 69 for three and finish the second day of this Specsavers County Championship match  on 278 - 5 in reply to Hampshire’s 395.

    Davies was eventually caught at deep square leg by Michael Carberry off James Vince for 115 but by then he had faced 188 balls and hit 18 fours and a six in an eventful innings which also included two dropped catches and a missed run out opportunity.

    However, the Lancashire opener had been aided in the task of restoring his side’s fortunes by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, with whom he put on 74 in 16 overs. That partial recovery ended  a few overs before tea when Chanderpaul was neatly stumped by Lewis McManus for 33 after being well beaten by a ball from Brad Taylor which turned beyond the edge of his bat.

    What was noticeable and quite unexpected about the Davies-Chanderpaul stand was the freedom with which both batsmen played. Having garnered only two runs from five overs at the outset of their partnership, the pair added 47 from the next five with both batsmen hitting Brad Taylor for six and Sean Ervine conceding 20 runs in his two overs of anodyne slowish bowling.

    Davies then went on to share a stand of 90 for the fifth wicket with Vilas, who batted impressively in the evening session. Ryan McLaren was unbeaten on 23 at stumps by which time Lancashire were 117 in arrears.    

    All of which represented a considerable improvement for the home side on the position in mid-afternoon when Steven Croft was leg before to Kyle Abbott for one with the home side still 326 runs behind Hampshire’s total. Lancashire had earlier lost Rob Jones leg before to Gareth Berg for two, and Luke Procter for eight when the left-hander lost his off stump to a Berg inswinger.

    In the first session of the day Kyle Abbott was left three runs short of what would have been his maiden first-class hundred although his 134-ball 97 had made a major contribution to Hampshire’s substantial first-innings total.

    The visitors were eventually bowled out for 395 – riches, indeed, when one considers that they were 177 for six at one stage - but the session had begun well for the home side when Taylor was caught at slip by  McLaren off James Anderson for 18 in the third over of the day. However, Matt Salisbury and Abbott then added 43 runs in untroubled fashion before Salisbury, having made a composed 14, skied McLaren to Chanderpaul at mid-on.

    At the close of play, Davies said: "It feels really nice to get another hundred. It kind of feels I’ve left some runs out there but I was getting really tired towards the end of the day and it was a lack of concentration.

    "I’m pleased with the innings and pleased with the position we’re in but you always want a few more runs don’t you."

    Middlesex v Yorkshire

    Middlesex are on course to claim their first win of the season after taking seven Yorkshire wickets after tea on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Lord’s.

    Replying to Middlesex’s 446, Yorkshire collapsed from 88 for 2 to 178 for 9 to a mixture of poor shot selection and some probing bowling, particularly by Toby Roland-Jones who took the key wickets of Adam Lyth and Peter Handscomb.

    The only prolonged resistance for Yorkshire came from Gary Ballance, who held the innings together with an unbeaten half-century, and a composed 38 by teenager Harry Brook. They closed on 186 for 9, trailing by 260.

    A total of 446 might have been short of what Middlesex had targeted when they had been 364 for 4 but with deliveries starting to keep low on a pitch which has baked in 30-degrees heat for the last two days Yorkshire’s batsmen found it tough.

    Lees (4) could consider himself unfortunate to fall leg before to a ball which pitched well outside the line and a brief spell of Yorkshire supremacy followed as Lyth and Brook, an 18-year-old from Keighley making his Championship debut, added 68 for the second wicket.

    Brook revelled in his surroundings and was soon scoring runs all around the wicket including six fours, two of them off successive balls from Steven Finn.

    But shortly after tea off-spinner Ollie Rayner surprised him with extra bounce and Brook was well held at short leg by Steve Eskinazi. Lyth (37) had gone just before tea when medium-pacer Ryan Higgins beat his defensive shot to claim his maiden Championship wicket.

    Toby Roland-Jones returned with an impressive spell from the Nursery End which gained its reward when Handscomb (15) edged to slip on the drive before Finn returned to bowl Adil Rashid (0) off an inside edge for a duck and later have Ben Coad (14) caught behind.

    Andy Hodd (0) bottom-edged a pull at Tim Murtagh onto his stumps before Higgins returned to pick up Steve Patterson (1) and Jack Brooks (0), to a ball which scuttled onto his stumps.

    Ballance enjoyed some luck but passed 50 for the eighth time this season when he drove Rayner back down the ground for his ninth four just before stumps.

    Yorkshire had dominated the first session, taking the last six Middlesex wickets for 80 runs before the hosts were dismissed just after lunch.

    The key dismissal was that of Sam Robson, who batted for just short of seven hours for his 159 when he drove at Coad and was caught behind, having faced 290 balls and hit 19 fours.

    Coad broke through again 13 balls later when a nip-backer removed Higgins’ off stump for 13 to give him his 33rd wicket of the season.

    His double strike also checked Middlesex’s charge towards maximum batting points, which they failed to achieve, and they lost two further wickets just before lunch during an excellent spell by Ryan Sidebottom from the pavilion end.

    The veteran left-armer struck twice in nine deliveries as John Simpson (49) played on looking to guide the ball to third man and Rayner (2) was held at mid-on off a spliced pull.

    After lunch, Rashid finished things off when Roland-Jones (33) drove to cover and Finn failed to pick his googly.

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