Nick Browne’s half century puts Essex back in charge against Somerset

Nick Browne top scored for Essex with 44. Picture: ARCHANT

Nick Browne top scored for Essex with 44. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Su Anderson

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 50 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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 50 partnership was posted from 24 overs.

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