Essex top the table after eight-wicket win over Surrey and a Tom Westley century

Nick Browne in great form for Essex at Guildford

Nick Browne in great form for Essex at Guildford - Credit: Su Anderson

Tom Westley’s 108 not out, and an equally fine innings of 77 from Nick Browne, took Essex to the emphatic eight-wicket victory against Surrey at Guildford today which takes them to the top of the Specsavers County Championship Division One table.

Needing 253, from a minimum of 83 overs, after they had bowled Surrey out a second time for 288 earlier in the day, Essex reached 253 for 2 little more than half-an-hour after tea and always looked totally in control despite a wearing last day pitch.

Westley was joined in an unbroken third wicket partnership of 105 in 27 overs by Dan Lawrence, who finished unbeaten on 32. Essex took 24 points from their third win of the season, with Surrey having to settle for seven.

Since gaining promotion last year, Essex have surprised the rest of the first division with their early-season success – but this was a comprehensive win against a team who themselves led Division One until the last round of matches and was achieved despite seamer Matt Quinn suffering a back spasm on day one which has prevented him from bowling since.

Essex began their chase well, with a half-century stand posted by Browne and Alastair Cook. But Cook was out on the stroke of lunch for 31 when, having just driven Ravi Rampaul to the cover boundary, he was drawn into another off drive and edged to Scott Borthwick at second slip.

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Browne was eventually caught at slip from one which turned and bounced, playing back to Gareth Batty’s off spin, but not before he and Westley had added a further 95 for the second wicket. The tall left-hander had faced just 96 balls, hitting 13 fours, and in the latter half of his innings he produced some quality strokes – including an effortless straight drive for four to greet Stuart Meaker’s introduction into the attack and then a dismissive short-armed pull to the boundary off Ravi Rampaul.

Batty’s off spin did not trouble the Essex batsmen in the same way that former South Africa Test off spinner Simon Harmer had made Surrey battle for runs in his second innings return of 4 for 83 from 39 overs.

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Westley moved to 97 with three successive fours off Scott Borthwick’s leg spin, and then completed three figures with a pull for four off Meaker. His hundred came from 162 balls and, overall, he faced 168 balls, hitting 17 fours.

In the morning Ben Foakes finished unbeaten on 65, from 149 balls, as Surrey added just 35 runs to their overnight 253 for 7 before the innings ended in a rush of poor shots and crazy running.

Meaker drove a half-volley from left arm paceman Neil Wagner to extra cover to go for 14, and two balls later Rampaul clipped the same bowler to backward square leg.

Foakes was then left stranded when he drove Wagner down the ground, looking for two, but Lawrence moved quickly to his right at long off to field and return to the bowler and there was never any chance of a second run. Footitt, however, turning blind, set off for the second even though Foakes had clearly decided against it, and Wagner lobbed the ball down the pitch for keeper James Foster to whip off the bails with Footitt helpless in mid-pitch.

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