|County Championship Group One, The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (day one):|
|Essex 207-3: Westley 84*, Lawrence 46; Barnard 2-38|
|Worcestershire: Yet to bat|
Captain Tom Westley made an unbeaten 84 to steer defending county champions Essex to a steady start with the bat against Worcestershire.
The right-hander shared an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership of 77 with Paul Walter (26 not out) before bad light stopped play with Essex on 207-3.
Earlier, Dan Lawrence looked impressive with 46 on his return to county colours after his Test debut in the winter.
Worcestershire’s bowlers showed discipline as Ed Barnard took 2-38.
Barnard claimed the wickets of Essex opener Nick Browne (26) and Lawrence either side of lunch as the hosts never really got away with the scoring rate despite being able to build solid partnerships.
Despite losing the toss, Charlie Morris made the first breakthrough for Worcestershire when he was rewarded with the key scalp of Alastair Cook (15) in the first hour.
He got a ball to nip back and trap the former England captain leg before, while Browne was smartly caught by Jake Libby at cover off Barnard from an uppish drive at 57-2.
The Pears had to wait until midway through the afternoon session for another wicket when Lawrence looked a touch aggrieved to be given out leg before. Barnard caught him on the crease with a ball that jagged back as Lawrence eyed-up what would have been a deserved half-century.
But despite losing nearly 15 overs because of bad light after tea, Essex’s steady progress throughout the day allowed them to register a first batting bonus point.
Westley will hope he can pick up where he left off on day two as he bids to score a first Championship century since 2019.