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Bears pile on the runs in spite of injuries to top order; CRICKET.

Byline: BRIAN HALFORD

TITLE-CHASING Essex encountered stern resistance from relegationthreatened Warwickshire on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship tussle at Edgbaston.

Division One leaders Essex took up the away side's option to bowl first in the hope of making inroads into a Bears top order missing Ian Bell, Adam Hose, Rob Yates and Tim Ambrose through injury or illness.

But the Bears' depleted batting lineup showed plenty of resilience and concentration to close the opening day on 269 for three.

After Dominic Sibley laid the foundation with 51 (158 balls, four fours, taking his championship run tally for the season to exactly 1,000), Sam Hain (77 not out, 185 balls, ten fours) and Matt Lamb (69 not rwho added 87 in 27.3 overs before Harmer struck twice in six balls just before lunch. Rhodes (38, 85 balls, eight fours) edged a turning delivery to wicketkeeper Adam Wheater and then Liam Banks, still to score, was caught by Ravi Bopara at leg slip.

Having batted through the first session for 35, Sibley reached 50 from 139 balls an hour after lunch, but added only another single before chipping a return catch back to Harmer. That left Warwickshire 140 for three and Essex sensing an opportunity but Hain and Lamb knuckled down assiduously.

While Harmer wheeled away, the seamers rotated at the other end but found little assistance from the pitch. Jamie Porter, in particular, had little luck but Hain and Lamb reached their half-centuries from 132 and 110 balls respectively, each with eight fours.

In the last hour, the new ball failed to bring another breakthrough and, within seven overs, Essex turned back to Harmer but the fourth-wicket pair remained resolute under the cerulean Second City evening sky.

While Essex are at full strength, Warwickshire's extraordinary injury crisis has deepened yet further with the loss of Yates (illness), Tim Ambrose (upset stomach) and Adam Hose (knee injury). Eighteen-year-old allrounder Ethan Brookes is making his debut, alongside brother Henry.

Sibley said: "They chose to bowl and were looking for early wickets so to reach the close three down against the First Division leaders is a really pleasing day. The partnership towards the end there between Sam and Matt, with some of the shots they played, was absolutely brilliant and great to watch. Essex will come hard at us like the very good side they are but we have put down a strong foundation so hopefully we can build on that.

"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 so that was disappointing and when I got out it was 140 for three and Essex felt they had a chance of pressing home an advantage but Sam and Matt played really well."

CAPTION(S):

Warwickshire's batsman Dominic Sibley yesterday

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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 11, 2019
Words:490
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