Essex v Gloucestershire: Reece Topley gives hosts edge
|LV CC Division Two, Chelmsford|
|Close, day one: Gloucestershire 224 v Essex 75-0|
|Gloucestershire 1pt; Essex 3pts|
Seam duo Reece Topley (5-53) and David Masters (4-67) capitalised on helpful bowling conditions as Essex took control against Gloucestershire.
The visitors collapsed to 56-6 and 123-8 but rallied for 224 all out in between rain showers at Chelmsford.
Jack Taylor hit 35 from 40 balls, while David Payne (48 not out) added 66 for the final wicket with Matt Taylor (26).
In reply, Essex scored rapidly to move to 75-0 thanks to Tom Westley (46 not out) and Nick Browne (28 not out).
It was a good toss for Essex to win with plenty of cloud cover, and Masters wasted little time in putting the hosts in control as Will Tavare edged behind to wicketkeeper James Foster without a run on the board.
Topley then reduced Gloucestershire to 17-3 as he had Chris Dent caught behind and Hamish Marshall taken at point by Browne.
Foster and Masters teamed up to get rid of Ian Cockbain and then Alex Gidman (22) before Will Gidman (13) was taken at second slip by Westley off Topley.
When Adam Rouse (28) nicked behind and Tom Smith (17) was bowled by a full-length inswinger, the two wickets giving Topley his five, a quick end to the Gloucestershire innings looked likely.
Instead, they were able to earn a batting bonus point as Essex's bowling lost discipline for a time.
By the time Jack Taylor gave Foster a sixth catch of the innings and Masters a fourth wicket, Gloucestershire had moved on to 158.
And there was more frustration for Essex as Graham Napier could only remove Matt Taylor, caught at first slip, once Payne had smashed four boundaries and a six.
In reply, Essex avoided any early problems as Westley and Browne scored quickly, hitting 10 and three boundaries respectively.
It leaves them trailing by 149 runs with all 10 first-innings wickets in hand.
BBC Essex's Dave Brett:
"Essex's four-day form continues to fluctuate between the sublime and ridiculous. Bowling beautifully with the new ball and in helpful conditions Essex had Gloucestershire 56-6 and then 123-8. That the away side posted 224 showed just how fragile Essex's form and confidence is in the County Championship.
"A solid reply start to Essex's first innings reply from Westley and Browne, however, combined with the relative comfort in which Gloucestershire's tail-enders played the Essex bowling attack, suggests that the pitch has become more benign.
"It wasn't a great day for England hopeful Monty Panesar. He was lackadaisical in the field, which drew howls of laughter from the members, and smashed for 20 off his two overs. That suggests he still has much to do if he is to convince the England selectors that he's the man to fill the role of the national team's frontline spinner."
BBC Radio Bristol's Stephen Lamb:
"It was a toss that both teams needed to win, and after Foster put Gloucestershire in, it was easy to see why. Swing and seam made batting a tricky occupation, especially in the first session, and both Topley and Masters exploited the conditions well.
"Of the first six wickets to fall, four went to catches behind the wicket, on account of accurate seam bowling. The fightback began from 56 for six, and it owed much to Gloucestershire's tail that they eventually garnered 224.
"But an unbroken opening stand between Westley and Browne ensured that Essex had the better of the day, and has given them a platform to take control of the match."