Essex County Cricket Club: Westley and Cook ensure Essex a solid start

By Brian Jeeves in Cricket

Essex v Hampshire

Specsavers County Championship Division One - Day One

At the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford

Essex 243/2 (78.2 overs)

Hampshire

TOM WESTLEY and Alastair Cook both hot centuries as Essex made a solid start on what was a rain-affected opening day against Hampshire at Chelmsford.

After losing Nick Browne in the opening over, Westley and Cook put together a stand of 243 before the former fell to a delivery from Kyle Abbott for 111.

One-time England skipper Cook was unbeaten on 114 taking him past 800 runs for the season in all competitions, an innings that included fourteen boundaries from 249 balls. Hampshire’s somewhat fruitless toil with the ball saw them use no less that seven bowlers with only Abbott and Fidel Edwards having any success as the home side reached 243/2 at the close.

Speaking at the close of play, Westley said: “It’s good to get that first score out of the way – that first [Championship] hundred of the season is always nice. It was tough going, but it’s pleasing to get some runs. What’s most pleasing is the position we’re in after the conditions this morning and being put in to bat. To be 243 for two is a good position to us.

“We would have wanted to bowl first, too. It did nip around in the first hour and a half. It’s been nipping all through the day. It’s a good cricketing wicket, but there is definitely a bit in it for the bowlers, but also if they miss their length you feel you score.

“I don’t think Cookie will mind me say that we both played and missed a lot and on another day you can nick them and we can be 100 for three or four. But sometimes you have to ride the luck and hopefully, it’s your day. But special mention to Cookie: that was a chanceless hundred. They bowled well at him, so it wasn’t easy going. It’s great having Cookie at the other end: he just loves scoring runs. He’s a huge asset for the club.”

Westley went to the final ball of the day. He said: “That is the huge frustration that you bat all day. It was a decent ball, it’s been nipping around all day, it’s nipped back and I’ve got an inside edge and taken leg-stump. But you have to accept it,

“It is a huge frustration as we’d laid such a good platform and you’d like to think with Fidel Edwards injured their seamers are going to tire. I had some fortune during my innings so it’s probably fair that I get an inside edge.”

Hampshire head coach Craig White was left to bemoan another injury to a bowler with Fidel Edwards damaging his shoulder. White said: “We’ll assess it in the morning, but it looks a bit sore and I think he’ll struggle to take a further part in the game.

“Every game it seems this year we’ve had a bowler go down. It’s not ideal, it’s just frustrating. Injuries happen I know but when it happens every game and you’re a bowler down you wonder if you’re doing something wrong.”

Of the game, White added: “It was a frustrating day. At the start, we wouldn’t have thought they’d only be two wickets down at the end of play. I’m a little bit shocked really.

“It was great conditions to bowl in and we probably early on didn’t get enough balls consistently in the right areas. You have to take your hat off to those two, they played really well. It doesn’t help when you go a bowler down, so we stuck at it really well. But to take one wicket in the first over and one wicket in the last over, and nothing in between, well, that was today.

“We’ve got to fight as hard as we can to stay in this game. A few quick wickets in the morning and you never know. The new-ball is due so we might have a bit more luck in the morning and see where we are in the morning. Hopefully, we’ll be in a lot better position.”

Play resumes on Saturday at 11am

Toss uncontested, Hampshire elected to field first

Essex 3pts Hampshire 0pts

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