Lancashire 319 & 212-2 lead Essex 159 by 372 runs
Alex Davies closed in on his maiden first-class century as Lancashire piled on the runs ahead of the anticipated declaration sometime during the afternoon at Chelmsford.
The wicketkeeper-opener went to lunch on 97, three runs short of his ton and two less than highest score of 99 against Kent at Old Trafford two years ago.
Davies had reached his half-century off the penultimate ball last night, and took time to get going this morning before cutting loose with a vast array of attacking shots. He has faced 209 balls to date.
By lunch Davies and Dane Vilas had put on 78 for the third wicket in 25 overs and Lancashire were 372 runs ahead.
Davies added nine fours to his eight he had collected the night before. Among them was a straight-drive off Neil Wagner, the ball striking the stumps at the bowler’s end and ricocheting to the boundary. Another was akin to an overhead tennis smash off the same bowler.
As the confidence flowed in his 22-year-old veins, he sent a reverse sweep sent scudding through the off-side. Twice he stepped back to leg and cut Wagner square, though a second reverse sweep off Simon Harmer lobbed gently over Wagner at point. It was the only sign of a mishit all innings.
Aaron Beard took his second wicket of the innings when Liam Livingstone tried to force him through the off-side but only picked out Nick Browne at cover point. The second-wicket stand had just passed fifty of which he had contributed 28.