Browne and Wheater bat Essex into a good position despite a rain-hit day at Chelmsford

Essex's Nick Browne, has batted his side into a strong position against Somerset.

Essex's Nick Browne, has batted his side into a strong position against Somerset. - Credit: Su Anderson

Essex (159 & 158-4) lead Somerset (164) by 153 runs

Nick Browne and Adam Wheater batted Essex into a strong position during the 13 overs’ play possible on a rain-hit third day at Chelmsford.

The fourth-wicket pair extended Essex’s lead over Somerset from 112 to 152 before Browne’s 198-ball vigil ended just before play was brought to a premature halt soon after noon.

Tim Groenewald arrowed a ball past Browne’s forward-defensive prod to dismiss the left-hander for 83 and 19 runs short of reaching 1,000 first-class runs for the third successive season. He had hit 12 fours and a six.

He had been joined by Wheater the previous afternoon with Essex on a precarious 39 for three. Together the pair put on 118 in 45 overs to take Essex into a potentially winning position as they seek their fifth Specsavers County Championship victory in a row.

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Wheater was unbeaten on 58 from 135 balls and playing beautifully when the rain set in for the day. Play was finally abandoned at 4pm.

It has been a dispiriting summer for the batsman-wicketkeeper who returned from a spell at Hampshire a year ago. Six of his previous eight Championship innings had finished in single-figures, but he reached his second half-century from 118 balls with his seventh four. Wheater eased Craig Overton through the covers for his first boundary of the day, and then went on to the back foot to pick up a second square on the off-side. Another well-time cover-drive off Paul van Meekeren brought up his fifty.

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It also took the fourth-wicket stand to 100. When it ended, five overs later, it was the biggest partnership of the match by some 40 runs.

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