County Championship: Warwickshire battle hard to hold up title-chasing Essex
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Edgbaston (day one):|
|Warwickshire 269-3: Hain 77*, Lamb 69*, Sibley 51, Rhodes 38; Harmer 3-67|
|Essex: Yet to bat|
|Warwickshire 2 pts, Essex 1 pt|
Relegation-threatened Warwickshire enjoyed their best day's batting of the summer as they limited title hopefuls Essex to just three wickets.
After being put in by Essex, and having begun needing 31 points to be sure of avoiding the drop, the Bears banked two of them after half-centuries from Sam Hain, Matt Lamb and Dom Sibley.
Top wicket taker Simon Harmer (3-67) claimed the day's only three scalps.
But the Bears finished well on top on 269-3, with Hain on 77 and Lamb on 69.
They have so far put on 129 for the fourth wicket, to build on the big platform set earlier in the day by Sibley (51) and Will Rhodes (38) in their 87-run opening stand.
The Bears lost two wickets just before lunch when Rhodes was caught behind off a turning delivery from Harmer before Liam Banks went for a fifth-ball duck, taken at leg slip.
But, from then on, the only other wicket to fall came in mid-afternoon when Harmer, having induced a drive from Sibley hit back firmly to his right, adjusted quickly to take a good return catch - and Hain and Lamb then made light of the Bears' latest injury woes to bat through the entire final session.
While Essex were at full strength, the Bears' badly disrupted campaign - topped by the loss of Ian Bell, who has missed the entire season through injury - was further hampered by the loss of Rob Yates (illness), Tim Ambrose (stomach) and Adam Hose (knee).
And Warwickshire debutant Ethan Brookes - 18-year-old younger brother of Bears paceman Henry Brookes - the 23rd player used in the Championship in this transitional season.
The only consolation on a frustrating day for the Division One leaders, who started this game two points clear of Somerset, was knowing that their nearest rivals had been bowled out by title outsiders Yorkshire without gaining a single batting point at Taunton.
The 1,000-run club
Dom Sibley, who just edged Australia's Marnus Labuschagne to the honour of being the first to 1,000 first-class runs this season in July, has now clocked up exactly 1,000 in the Championship too.
He was the third to reach that landmark, behind Labuschagne, who hit 1,114 for Glamorgan in 10 matches prior to being called up for Ashes duty, and Pakistani opener Hassan Azad, who got there earlier in the day for Leicestershire.
But, in reaching exactly 51, the score he was out for, the opener is the first English-born player to do it - and the first in Division One.
Bears opener Dom Sibley told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire:
"They chose to bowl and were looking for early wickets, so to reach the close three down against the First Division leaders is really pleasing. But Essex will come hard at us like the very good side they are.
"The partnership towards the end there between Sam Hain and Matt Lamb, and some of the shots they played, was absolutely brilliant and great to watch.
"It is pleasing to get to 1,000 Championship runs but I was very disappointed to get out when I did. One of the strengths of my game this season has been kicking on and making big scores."
Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate:
"I got the toss wrong. I thought we could cash in on the early start but it wasn't to be so we were left playing catch-up. Their three batters played very well and got away with the odd mistake when a few nicks didn't carry.
"The scoreboard says it was not a great day for us but the bowlers were fantastic. They all kept running in on a wicket which didn't offer very much and Simon wheeled away.
"To have kept the scoreboard in check is the big positive to take out of the day. We just need to take a couple of wickets early in the morning to get the bonus points and also to get us a foothold."