Livingstone starred and Essex have a battle on their hands in Division One heading into day three.
ESSEX v SOMERSET
Nick Browne dug in with characteristic doggedness for an unbeaten half-century which helped Division One leaders Essex back into a game that looked in danger of slipping away from them.
When play was abandoned on the second day with 20 and a half overs remaining following a cloud burst that turned torrential, Essex had opened a 112-run advantage in the top versus second-bottom encounter with seven wickets still to fall.
At that point, Browne had reached 66 from 159 balls, his fifth Specsavers County Championship score above fifty this summer, with nine fours and a six. He requires another 36 runs to pass 1,000 first-class runs for the third summer running.
A pleased Browne said: “It ebbed and flowed for me. They bowled nicely and then I got a few away. You suddenly look up and you are 12-15 runs ahead.
"I wasn’t really looking to play good drives, I was just looking to stay in my bubble and have a partnership."
On his upcoming landmark, he added: “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. Every year that’s my target to score 1,000 runs – mainly in the Championship."
He was kept company for 32 overs by Adam Wheater in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 78, equalling the highest partnership of a low-scoring match. Wheater was 36 not out from 96 balls at the close, his second highest score of the season.
Somerset staggered past Essex’s first-innings 159 by just five runs before Craig Overton sliced open the top of order second time round with two lbw decisions in the seven overs before lunch. Varun Chopra went without playing a shot to one that came back and Dan Lawrence departed for a pair in similar fashion to leave Essex eight for two.
Ravi Bopara hung around for 14 overs in helping Browne put on 31 for the third wicket. However, a rush of blood from the former England man, when he charged Jack Leach and was beaten by flight, resulted in a stumping and Essex in a parlous position at 39 for three.
Browne’s innings had moments of explosion amid a plethora of dot balls. He came back sufficiently refreshed after lunch to hit Paul van Meekeren for three successive fours in the first over, two involuntarily either side of the wicketkeeper, the third a more controlled flick through midwicket. He also got a massive top-edge to a ball from Overton that sailed high over fine leg for six.
Wheater was slightly less inhibited, thumping the bad balls through the off-side, though he received a reprieve on 14. James Hildreth got both hands above his head to a thick edge at second slip, but the ball didn’t stick.
A back-foot drive through the covers for four, his eighth, took Browne to his fifty from 128 balls, and shortly afterwards the fifty partnership was posted from 24 overs.
Essex required just 75 minutes in the morning to remove Somerset’s last five first-innings wickets and concede a five-run deficit.
Mohammad Amir made a cameo appearance, taking two wickets in the first of his only two overs of the day before succumbing to a back spasm. The Pakistani had bowled 10 indifferent overs on the first day, but struck with the second delivery of the morning. The ball swung in and took the edge of Jack Leach’s bat to give James Foster the catch.
But Amir felt his back after bowling the fifth ball and it didn’t look as if he would carry on. However, the final ball of the over was a well-pitched-up, slow yorker that bent back Overton’s middle stump. After on-field treatment, Amir headed to the pavilion, but was back almost immediately before disappearing for the final time and a prolonged spell on the physio’s couch.
Porter claimed his third five-wicket haul in the Championship this season when Steven Davies edged to second slip. Harmer couldn’t hold on, but managed to react and palm the ball to his right where Foster dived forward to take.
A hooked four by Dom Bess took Somerset past Essex’s first-innings total. But Harmer ended the 31-run stand for the ninth wicket by tempting Groenewald forward to give Foster another catch, and finished off the innings as van Meekeren fenced to Adam Wheater at short leg four balls later. It took Harmer to 50 Championship wickets in his first county season.
SURREY v MIDDLESEX
Jason Roy and Ben Foakes both scored superb 70s to earn Surrey a slim first-innings lead in a hard-fought London derby at the Kia Oval. By stumps Middlesex, at 15 without loss in their second innings after Surrey had replied with 280 to their first day’s 247, were just 18 runs adrift.
Roy hit 79 from 91 balls, including three sixes off Ollie Rayner’s off-spin, and Foakes 73 from 122 balls in a fifth wicket stand of 125 from 28 overs that threatened to give Surrey complete command as they counter-attacked from 106 for 4.
But, with Surrey’s total on 231 for 4, Roy attempted to hit Adam Voges’s occasional left-arm spin over long on and skewed a catch to mid off. Then, when Foakes fell leg-before to left-arm seamer James Franklin four overs later – the 75th of the innings – Surrey’s lower order was exposed to the second new ball.
Tim Murtagh almost immediately had Sam Curran caught at second slip for 4 and soon claimed Ollie Pope lbw for a useful 25. Toby Roland-Jones also picked up two wickets with the second new ball, removing Rikki Clarke to a catch at extra cover for 1 and clean bowling last man Amar Virdi for 1 to finish with 4 for 66.
Earlier Surrey nightwatchman Stuart Meaker, with a 109-ball 42, had led the second day resistance in a Specsavers County Championship match both sides need to win if they are to pull away from the Division One relegation zone.
Meaker’s eventual dismissal, caught at the wicket nibbling at Steven Finn in the fourth over after lunch and the 43rd of the innings, led to the Roy and Foakes counter-attack as Middlesex’s bowlers suddenly found it difficult to keep the pressure on the two batsmen. Roy also struck six fours, besides his sixes – two of which were from successive balls from Rayner, while Foakes hit 12 fours in his excellent knock.
With just a single to his name in Surrey’s overnight 26 for 2, Meaker – who hit six fours – had initially been the unexpected senior partner in a stand of 63 for the third wicket with Scott Borthwick, who laboured through 78 balls for his 24 before flashing at Finn and nicking to keeper John Simpson.
LANCASHIRE v WARWICKSHIRE
Double centurion Liam Livingstone starred to put second-placed Lancashire on course for a crucial Specsavers County Championship win over Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford.
The hosts have reached the halfway stage of this Division One encounter with the struggling Bears at 484 for six from 122 overs in reply to 200.
They lost only three wickets in the day in advancing from 112 for three overnight to lead by 284. Bad light ended play seven overs early.
England T20 batsman Livingstone batted through the entire day for 215 not out off 318 balls with 25 fours and three sixes - his first career double.
After his knock, he said: “It was good fun. We sort of said at the start of the day to try and bat as long as we could, bat the full day out and see where we were.
“We’ve achieved that, and it’s exciting going into tomorrow.
“When you get the chance to get in and put a performance on for the team, that’s what everyone wants to do. It was nice to get in and go on to a big one," he added.
Night-watchman Stephen Parry fell for 43 before lunch and Shiv Chanderpaul and Jos Buttler for 95 and 49 after tea.
West Indian Chanderpaul narrowly missed out on his 77th career first-class century.
He shared 202 in 49 overs with fifth-wicket partner Livingstone from mid-morning to early evening.
Left-handed Chanderpaul turned 43 earlier this month, but he shows no signs of slowing up. This 152-ball effort, including eleven fours, came against one of his other three English counties.
This is his second spell with Lancashire, while he also represented Durham and Derbyshire as well as Warwickshire briefly in 2011.
In a season which has only seen the Bears win one Championship match and sit bottom of the table, there can’t have been too many more frustrating days than this.
Livingstone, 24-years-old, and Parry completed a fourth-wicket stand of 85 before lunch, ended when the latter miscued Jeetan Patel’s off-spin to mid-on two short of a career best score.
That left Lancashire at 165 for four in the 50th over.
From there, Livingstone, who hit 168 in a win over Somerset here earlier in the summer, and Chanderpaul rarely looked troubled on a pitch which has shown the rare signs of uneven bounce.
Livingstone reached his second hundred of the season off 151 balls when he pulled the penultimate ball of the morning from Olly Stone for six over backward square-leg.
He later reached his second 150 of the campaign off 219 balls having earlier pulled his third six of Dom Sibley’s part-time leg-spinners.
By the time Livingstone reached 150, Warwickshire were bowling with the second new ball and Lancashire were closing in on 350 for four.
Chanderpaul, who started particularly fluently before lunch, fell to the first ball of the evening session’s second over when he pulled Wright to Patel at square-leg, leaving the score at 376 for five in the 99th.
That brought Buttler to the crease, and he got off the mark with an inside-edge for four to fine-leg later in the over before lofting Patel for six over long-on shortly afterwards as Lancashire closed in on a fifth batting point.
Buttler survived a straightforward drop on 19 by Matthew Lamb at short mid-wicket off Patel before later falling for 49, caught at deep mid-wicket off Andy Umeed’s off-spinners as the score fell to 458 for six in the 117th.
Earlier in the over, Livingstone reached 200 off 302 balls. The pair shared 82. Ryan McLaren will begin tomorrow’s third day unbeaten on 13.