|County Championship Group One, New Road, Worcester (day three):|
|Essex 561-8 dec: Cook 115, Westley 113, Lawrence 90, Walter 65, Harmer 57*|
|Worcestershire 302-5: Mitchell 67, D’Oliveira 67, Fell 53; Harmer 3-75|
|Worcestershire (3 pts) trail Essex (4 pts) by 259 runs with five wickets in hand|
Worcestershire closed 259 runs behind Essex in their bid to salvage a draw after some dogged batting at New Road.
Resuming on 37-0 in reply to Essex’s first innings of 561-8 declared, Daryl Mitchell (67) and Jake Libby (41) put on 111 for the first wicket.
Simon Harmer took three wickets before lunch to leave the hosts on 132-3.
But Brett D’Oliveira (67) and Tom Fell (53) rebuilt to help edge the Pears to 302-5 at stumps, with another 110 runs needed to avoid the follow-on.
After just eight wickets fell in the first two days of the match, the bowlers continued to toil on the third morning as Worcestershire’s newly-installed vice-captain Libby and Mitchell eased to a second 100-run opening stand of the season.
Having hoisted Harmer for six, the Essex off-spinner soon had his revenge by bowling Libby, and then removed Mitchell and Gareth Roderick in three balls to leave the hosts wobbling.
But Fell and D’Oliveira steadied the ship with a fourth-wicket stand worth 111, defying the Essex attack throughout the afternoon session to reach tea at 219-3.
Sam Cook finally ended Fell’s 162-ball stay, and seven overs later, Shane Snater had D’Oliveira caught by Adam Wheater to leave the Pears 259-5 and give Essex another chink of hope.
However, Riki Wessells (24 not out) and Ben Cox (23 not out) batted sensibly to the close leaving the visitors with a big job to force victory on a flat wicket on the final day.