Lancashire were left cursing two innings of substance from middle order duo James Foster and Ryan ten Doeschate as a lot of their early good work with the ball was undone during the latter stages of today's opening day of the LV= County Championship match at Chelmsford.
The Red Rose county will still be pretty pleased to have the hosts on 268-8 from 77 overs, but it could have been much, much better having reduced them to 72-5 with some excellent new ball bowling from Kyle Hogg and Glen Chapple.
Essex were even reduced to 13-3 inside nine overs having been invited to bat first by Chapple, who handed a Championship debut to all-rounder Luis Reece, although he did not bowl.
Essex’s first five wickets fell before lunch, including two each for Hogg and Luke Procter, who has returned to the side after missing the recent draw with Gloucestershire at Liverpool due to a side strain.
Chapple and Hogg were excellent with the new ball, extracting movement both through the air and off the pitch particularly. They returned 1-8 and 2-21 respectively from eight-over opening spells.
The Essex recovery was underpinned by stands of 95 between Foster and ten Doeschate for the sixth wicket and 59 between Foster and Graham Napier for the seventh.
They took the score to 226-6 in the 70th over, and when bad light forced the players off at 4.55pm and meant 19 overs were lost, former Red Rose fast bowler Sajid Mahmood was not out on 22.
Foster hit six fours in a 156-ball 82 and ten Doeschate nine fours and a six in 77 from 117 balls.
“We’ve seen Foster and ten Doeschate do it year after year to teams,” said Hogg (2-45 from 15 overs). “We got off to a great start and had them three down in no time. The wicket was doing a bit, but we bowled well. As the ball got softer, it became batter-friendly.
“I don’t think you can just expect to knock numbers eight, nine, 10 and 11 over easily anymore. Saj is coming in at nine for them, and everyone can hold a bat.
“We’ve always known that if we’re four down, we’re still good enough to get a big score. It can be hard work having done so well to get early wickets only to see them get 268-8.”
Ten Doeschate reached his fifty off 80 balls and Foster’s came off 105. But the former will be mightily frustrated with the manner of his dismissal in between the two milestones, leaving the score at 167-6.
Having hit left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan for a six over long-on and a four in the 51st over, the Dutch all-rounder was caught at long-on by Simon Katich trying one shot too many.
Earlier, Hogg struck with his fifth ball - the eleventh of the match - when Jaik Mickleburgh edged to Ashwell Prince at third slip in the second over before getting fellow opener Tom Westley lbw in the sixth.
New Zealand Test left-hander Hamish Rutherford then edged Chapple behind, and Essex were 13-3 in the ninth.
Procter later bowled Owais Shah through the gate before Ben Foakes chipped him to Reece at cover to leave the score at 72-5 in the 23rd.
After ten Doeschate fell to Kerrigan in the latter stages of the afternoon session, Napier was trapped lbw by Wayne White as he played to leg after tea - 226-7.
Kerrigan picked up his second wicket when he trapped Foster lbw 42 runs later, but former team-mate Mahmood advanced down the track and hit him for six over long-off during his 24 balls at the crease.
Mahmood will resume tomorrow with David Masters for company. He has yet to get off the mark.
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh