Essex (141-1) v Hampshire
Alistair Cook and Tom Westley shared an unbeaten century second-wicket stand to put Essex in the driving seat at tea on the first day of their rain-hit Specsavers County Championship match against Hampshire at Chelmsford.
The pair both reached their third Championship half-centuries of the season as they painstakingly repaired the damage wrought when Nick Browne departed to the fifth ball of a day shorn of 20 overs by the weather.
The ball seamed and swung around alarmingly for the batsmen in the early afternoon. Kyle Abbott, having switched ends, almost cut Westley in half with a late inswinger and Gareth Berg had Cook in some discomfort with his whippy action. But Westley responded by hitting Berg for successive boundaries, the first hammered off the back-foot through the covers bringing up the 50 partnership in 19 overs.
Runs were hard to come by for a time on a slow outfield, and Cook had to run three for a well-timed drive through the offside that would normally have gone for four. Westley, though, was finding the ropes with greater regularity, clipping Abbott firmly through midwicket for his sixth boundary.
Westley’s ninth four, an angled shot past third slip, brought up his fifty from 75 balls before Cook brought up the century partnership in 29 overs. Cook’s fifth four, a typical drive square on the offside off Fidel Edwards, brought up a 113-ball fifty. At the break, Cook was 59, Westley 77, by which time Hampshire had used seven bowlers.