Essex 515-8 v Warwickshire
James Foster leapt in the air and punched his fist three times in the direction of the Essex changing room as he reached his first Specsavers County Championship century for more than a year.
The veteran wicketkeeper was Essex’s second centurion of the day after Ravi Bopara passed three-figures for the first time in almost three years.
The pair, who came together at 227 for five in the late evening on the first day, added 229 runs to Essex’s mounting total before Foster departed for 121. The stand broke the 29-year sixth-wicket record of 140 between Keith Fletcher and Allan Border for Essex against Warwickshire.
At tea, Essex had compiled 515 for eight with Bopara still there on 190.
Foster showed the full range of unorthodox strokes after lunch. He played a ramp shot over the wicketkeeper for four and later reverse-swept Jeetan Patel so fine that stumper and slip dived in opposite directions as it sped to the boundary. In between, Foster faced a barrage of short-pitched deliveries from Boyd Rankin, one of which struck him flush on the side of the head and necessitated medical attention.
It did not inhibit Foster and he went to his first century since his 113 against Northamptonshire last May with a hooked four off Rikki Clarke. It was his 14th boundary from the 159th ball faced. The celebration was borne from a sense of frustration after an unsettling season during which he was ousted behind the stumps by Adam Wheater.
Bopara was relatively quiet during the afternoon, but a single pushed to midwicket off Sunny Singh brought up his 150 from 346 balls.
Foster smashed a towering six over long leg off Singh before he gave a catch to a tumbling Keith Barker at wide mid-on off Jonathan Trott to end an entertaining 182-ball stay at the wicket. He had also hit 16 fours.
The wicket rejuvenated Warwickshire and they claimed two more just before the break. Singh ran in from the long-on boundary to dismiss Paul Walter and give Jeetan Patel a third wicket in the innings before the young spinner had Simon Harmer trapped lbw.