Essex’s decision to bowl first appeared to be vindicated as they dismissed Glamorgan for 260 on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match on a green-tinged surface at The SSE SWALEC. By the close of play, the visitors had reached 29/1.
A leg-bye from the final delivery of the afternoon session had seen Glamorgan to 214/7 besides bringing up the fifty stand between Andrew Salter and Craig Meschede. Glamorgan supporters were keeping their fingers crossed for further resistance from the eighth wicket pair after the interval, and Salter began in positive vein by scything Ravi Bopara high over gully for four followed by a booming drive to the ropes at long-on.
Meschede then drilled Masters through mid-off for another four before Salter lofted Napier to long-off for four but with the score on 243 and another batting point looming, Jamie Porter returned to the fray and with his first delivery removed Meschede who edged a ball into James Foster’s gloves. Timm van der Gugten began by steering a drive through gully for four, but next over he departed l.b.w. to Napier.
Michael Hogan then bisected the slip fielders as he edged a ball from Porter between them for four before Salter clipped Napier to square-leg, and past a bemused fielder who had failed to pick up the flight of the ball. But Napier ended the innings in his next over and gained a `five-for` as he bowled Hogan with Glamorgan ending on 260.
This left eighteen overs in the daily quota and Nick Browne – fresh from his double-century and Jaik Mickleburgh began Essex’s reply against van der Gugten and Wagg. The Dutch bowler nearly removed Browne in his second over but Hogan at leg-slip could not quite grasp the flicked stroke by the left-hander. However, it did not prove to be a costly miss as next over Wagg produced a sharp in-swinger which trapped the opener l.b.w. as Essex lost their first wicket on 3.
Tom Westley played and missed and his first few deliveries from Wagg as the left-armer repeatedly swung the ball in and away from the batsman. The first boundary eventually came in the ninth over as Mickleburgh carved a ball from van der Gugten to the point boundary. He repeated the stroke two overs later as Hogan entered the attack, whilst Meschede had a spell at the Cathedral Road End. But Westley and Mickleburgh stoutly defended and took Essex to 29/1 at the end of an enthralling day’s play.
Resuming after lunch with his side on 91/1, Chris Cooke began by cover-driving Graham Napier for four in the opening over, but in the third over , Napier found the edge of Mark Wallace’s bat with James Foster completing a regulation catch behind the stumps. His departure saw the return of Jacques Rudolph to the middle whose finger had only been bruised earlier in the morning, but three overs later the Glamorgan captain was making his way back to the pavilion as he was trapped l.b.w. by David Masters.
101/3 saw Aneurin Donald join Cooke and the young tyro began by pulling Masters for four before Cooke completed his fifty by glancing Masters to square leg for three. But next ball, the veteran seamer got a delivery through the defence of Donald and re-arranged his stumps as Glamorgan stuttered again to 125/4.
David Lloyd joined Cooke and after a series of nudges into the leg-side, he drilled Jamie Porter through the covers for four. Porter was also struck square of the wicket twice in an over by Cooke, but the bowler gained revenge as – with the total on 147 – he found the edge of Cooke’s bat with Tom Westley at second slip completing a diving catch inches above the turf.
With Graham Wagg as his new partner, Lloyd square-drove Porter for another boundary before greeting the return of Graham Napier at the Cathedral Road End by flicking him to the ropes at square-leg. But he was then snared leg before by Ravi Bopara to reward the all-rounder for a frugal spell at the River End. 156/6 then became 164/7 as Wagg was yorked by an in-swinging delivery from Napier.
Craig Meschede and Andrew Salter joined forces with the latter steering Bopara through the gully for four, whilst the former clipped Napier to square-leg for four, Shortly before tea, Salter harpooned Napier into the Grandstand for a massive six before Glamorgan reached the 200-mark in the 63rd over as Meschede glided Napier through the slips for four.
This match sees top against bottom as Division Two leaders Essex meet Glamorgan who are currently in ninth place in the table, and events at The SSE SWALEC began with the leaders exerting their right to bowl under the new ECB playing conditions as the first uncontested toss in Wales saw Glamorgan’s openers, Jacques Rudolph and Mark Wallace, make their way to the crease as play began promptly, despite overnight rain, at 11a.m.
The precipitation however had dampened parts of the outfield and a pair of sweetly-timed cover drives from the bat of the Glamorgan captain slowed down as they approached the ropes, resulting in a couple of early three’s for Rudolph . Jamie Porter, who had taken the new ball with the ageless David Masters, was cover driven by Wallace for the day’s first boundary before the Glamorgan wicket-keeper had a moment of good fortune as he under-edged a no-ball from the young seamer onto his stumps.
A punched drive through the covers against Masters saw Rudolph garner his first boundary in the eighth over, followed next over by a deft glide through backward point against Porter, before a rasping off-drive for four as Graham Napier entered the attack at the River End. The next delivery then rose up and struck Rudolph a painful blow on the glove, forcing him to retire hurt with the total on 43.
Shortly afterwards, it became 43/1 as his replacement Will Bragg drove a ball into the hands of Ravi Bopara at backward point as Chris Cooke joined Wallace, who responded by gliding Napier through the gully for four. Cooke got off the mark – besides bringing up the fifty – by edging Masters through the slips for four before savagely square-cutting Porter for four when the young seamer returned to the attack at the Cathedral Road End.
Cooke also had a life when, on 16, he edged Porter to third slip where Jesse Ryder, diving to his left, failed to grasp the ball. Cooke celebrated by cover-driving Porter before doing the same when Ravi Bopara had a spell at the River End. Shortly before lunch Mark Wallace cover drove Porter as rayts of sunshine bathed The SSE SWALEC