Browne in fine form as he hits another century for Essex as they get the upper hand on Durham

Nick Browne in bat - scored some good runs for Essex today

Nick Browne in bat - scored some good runs for Essex today - Credit: Su Anderson

Essex (333 & 203-2) lead Durham MCCU (187) by 349 runs

Nick Browne feasted on the Durham students’ bowling today as he warmed up for the new season with the 12th first-class century of his career.

The left-hander went about his work serenely and tidily, punishing anything loose, to add an unbeaten 113 to the 66 he scored in the first innings.

Browne reached three figures just before the close when he pushed the ball straight past spinner Darrel Williams for his 19th four. It had taken him 115 balls.

It was a better batting performance for Essex second time around and some of those who missed out on Sunday got in on the act. Varun Chopra helped Browne put on 61 for the first wicket, accelerating smoothly after tea, before he went lbw to an inswinger from Freddy Simon for 30.

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Browne and Tom Westley then put on 70 runs in 14 overs without alarm, and a flurry of well-timed boundaries, before Westley spooned Williams to Abhiraj Singh at cover for 34. Dan Lawrence joined Browne for the third half-century partnership of the innings as Essex ended the day on cruise control.

Earlier, Durham finished 146 runs behind on first innings. Jamie Porter was the pick of the Essex bowlers doubling his overnight wicket total in the morning to finish with four for 35. He trapped James McCollum lbw to a fuller ball before Westley took the first of three catches in a row at second slip. Porter profited from a spectacular one-handed catch low to the right to remove Ed Pollock for 38.

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Westley snaffled a more straight-forward chance four balls later when Joe Cooke chased a wide delivery from Matt Dixon and dollied into his hands. The hat-trick was completed by a swoop to his left – again one-handed – to claim one off the inside edge of Sebastian Stewart-Taylor’s bat.

However, Essex’s bowlers toiled either side of lunch as the students’ eighth-wicket pair of Williams and Singh frustrated them for 38 overs while moving the score from 101 to 185.

The pair were particularly watchful when facing fellow spinner Simon Harmer, though Williams did hoist the South African over long leg for an unlikely six early on in his 148-ball 32. Harmer, though, removed both batsmen at the either end of his 12th over and finished with parsimonious figures of two for 19.

Singh, who had been dropped when 21 by wicketkeeper Adam Wheater, was first to go, caught in the deep by Porter for 44. Williams followed, pouched at slip by Chopra.

Ravi Bopara had wrapped up the innings soon after with his 200th first-class wicket for the county when Harman caught Simon at third slip.

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