Essex 385 (Westley 121, Cook 105, Shaw 4-118) and 94 for 0 (Browne 55*) beat Gloucestershire 262 (Roderick 88*, Marshall 51, Porter 4-59) and 215 (Taylor 74, Roderick 58) by ten wickets
Nick Browne scored an unbeaten half-century as Essex wrapped up a ten-wicket win © Getty Images
Essex opened their County Championship campaign with an easy 10-wicket victory over Division Two rivals Gloucestershire at Chelmsford. They entered the final day 59 short of their target of 93 and needed just under an hour to claim success.
Alastair Cook and Nick Browne suffered a few anxious moments before Essex competed the task. The visitors thought they had Browne taken at slip by Chris Dent when he pushed forward against offspinner Jack Taylor. The batsman stood his ground and when umpires Jeff Evans and Michael Gough conferred, they deemed the ball had touched the ground first.
Browne then square drove the spinner to the boundary and took three fours in one over from paceman Tom Hampton before completing his half-century – from 66 deliveries with eight fours – by taking three runs through extra-cover off the same bowler.
Immediately afterwards, Browne received a let off when he square drove Hampton but Ian Cockbain, diving forward from point, failed to hold on to the ball.
Cook survived when, uncharacteristically, he moved forward and had a wild swing against Taylor but that was his only indiscretion. The England captain gathered runs freely by working the ball off his legs, and also found the cover boundary with a glorious stroke at the expense of Hampton.
Kieran Noema-Barnett was soon pulled through midwicket by Cook, who then dealt out similar punishment against Taylor. But it was Browne who sealed victory with a straight-driven four against Noema-Barnett to finish with 55 to his name.
Cook ended with 35 not out to go with his first innings effort of 105 as Essex collected 23 points from their victory to Gloucestershire’s four.
Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate was pleased to see his side start the season on such a positive note and with such a comprehensive victory. “I’m naturally delighted with the victory but also the manner in which we went about things,” he said.
“It was very convincing. Our bowlers just kept coming at them and then Alastair Cook and Tom Westley batted beautifully, but the one dampener was the batting performance from our middle order. Conditions were a tougher for them when they batted but we need to do better in that situation. But everyone has got runs pre-season and they have good plans in place.
“We’ve strengthened our bowling options this season and were able to leave out players like Matt Quinn and David Masters so that shows our strength in depth and that will obviously be important as the season progresses.
“Obviously there is a long way to go, but it’s a good start and now we have a decent test against Sussex at Hove next week. They are pre-season favourites to get promotion so it should be an interesting game.”
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo