Graeme Swann was the source of transient but significant concern when he was sent for an X-ray which revealed no fracture to his bowling arm after he suffered a painful blow while batting against Tymal Mills. As with Joe Root, when Mills hit the opener on his left knee, the stakes were high with concerns over another player set to play a pivotal Ashes role.
Against Mills, Tom Craddock (five for 69) et al, England were indebted to a stand of 187 between Tim Bresnan (105 not out) and Swann which rescued them to 413 for nine declared. Then Root took a career-best four for 57 to put England in position to push for a heartening victory as Essex stumbled to 231 for nine despite Jaik Mickleburgh's hard-working 90.
Bresnan, returning to the ground where he made 126 not out for England Lions against India in 2007, posted three figures for the first time since that summer. Craddock caused his share of the damage on day one, and finished with his best haul thanks to the wickets of Swann (94) and then Steven Finn in consecutive deliveries of his only over.
Either side of Mills' hostility, the eighth-wicket pair of Brensna and Swann were largely untroubled until the latter - within one big hit of his century - fell to a juggling Ravi Bopara at mid-on off Craddock. Finn then pushed well forward only to miss a leg-break and go lbw first ball.
Bresnan took his opportunity off Tom Westley - hitting the part-time off-spinner for successive fours and then, from the final ball of the over, a six over to reach his hundred. England promptly declared - and before lunch, Finn (three for 56) compensated for his lack of runs with an early wicket when he had Westley caught-behind.
Kevin Pietersen gave Hamish Rutherford a reprieve in early afternoon, failing to hold a catch low to his left at mid-on off Graham Onions. It did not prove an especially costly miss, however, the New Zealand Test batsman adding only 15 more before mistiming an even easier catch off Bresnan to Pietersen at mid-off.
Root had to bowl most of Swann's overs and an off-break bit and somehow looped so slowly, from an upper-edge on an attempted cut by Owais Shah, that wicketkeeper Matt Prior was able to run round to comfortably take the catch. Opener Mickleburgh was unflustered on his way to an 85-ball 50, and reached tea in company with Bopara.
Bopara did not last long in the evening session before Finn had him edging behind again, and Mickleburgh appeared a little unlucky to be given out caught bat-pad off Root in sight of a deserved century.
Mark Pettini was bowled through the gate as Onions took the fielders out of the equation, and Root did likewise for his third wicket when he took a smart return catch to see off Ben Foakes. After Sajid Mahmood also holed out off Root, England had dug out a position of mid-match dominance.
- Sports & Recreation
- Graeme Swann
- Tim Bresnan
- Tymal Mills
- Joe Root
- Tom Craddock