Essex attack toil against Durham students ahead of start of new Specsavers County Championship campaign

Essex bowler Matt Dixon

Essex bowler Matt Dixon - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Jason Marshall led the resistance as Durham students asked questions of an Essex attack that will aim to bowl out First Division teams twice in a match when the Specsavers County Championship season starts on Friday.

Ryan ten Doeschate rotated his seven-man bowling attack to no avail as Durham frustrated Essex through two sessions of the third and final day of the warm-up game.

The two captains finally shook hands on the draw at eight minutes past five, two overs into the final hour, with Essex still needing eight wickets and Durham 379 runs short of their 503 target. By then, Marshall and Ed Pollock had eked out an unbeaten 77 for the third wicket with Marshall collecting 41.

Only Matt Dixon, who looked particularly lively after missing much of last season with injury, gained any reward, his brace coming inside two overs midway through the afternoon. Despite just missing the outside edge on numerous occasions, Jamie Porter and Aaron Beard in particular struggled to find a way through.

Durham’s opening pair, Will Fraine and Jack Clark were tenacious and, at one point, went 19 balls without scoring before Clark scampered a single. Their cause, though, was helped when Varun Chopra put down Fraine at first slip.

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Dixon struck in the 19th over when Nick Browne took a catch at third slip to remove Fraine. Clark went in Dixon’s next over, caught by substitute Callum Taylor.

The highlight of a dour 30-over afternoon session, in which the students crept to 67 for two, came when Marshall pulled Porter for six over midwicket.

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Before play started, Nick Browne retired out on 113 and Ravi Bopara joined Dan Lawrence, the pair making the most of their opportunity, adding 44 runs in nearly an hour, before Lawrence (43) chipped Abhiraj Singh down Joe Cooke’s throat at deep mid-off.

Bopara reached his half-century from 67 balls, before Ten Doeschate hammered Darrel Williams’s first ball for six, during an over in which he moved from eight to 26.

Bopara lifted Williams for a second six but two balls later went for another, and holed out to Cooke for 75. The fifth-wicket stand with ten Doeschate (47 not out) was worth 95 in 14.1 overs.

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