A weekend in Lyon watching Saracens become European Champions kept me away from the County Ground for Day 1 of this County Championship Division 2 match.  Derbyshire elected to bowl, taking the option available to visiting teams.

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This is going to be largely a Phlog rather than a blog, but a short report on the Essex innings.

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In what I imagine was a fairly slow day of cricket Essex made 284 for 3 with Nick Browne finishing the day on a record for him of 154 not out.

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Jack Mickleburgh was out LBW to Tony Palladino for 24 with the score on 61.  Tom Westley who’d been in fine form fell to the same fate with a duck.

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Ravi Bopara joined Browne at the wicket and the pair put on 111 before Bopara fell LBW to Shiv Thakor a run short of his 50.  Dan Lawrence who is still only 18 years old was next to the wicket and the pair saw out the day, with Lawrence on 51.

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That meant that I was able to enjoy a superb batting display by these 2 young batsmen, Dan Lawrence played with an assuredness that belied his tender age, moving on to 116 before he was bowled by Chesney Hughes.  He has a wide range of shots ranging from the classic to the sometimes outrageous, either way he is a joy to watch in full flow.

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This was his second century before the age of 19 and came on the day he was crowned as England Development Programme Cricketer of the Year  after a year which saw him score 712 runs for England Under 19s and also become Essex’s youngest ever centurion in First Class cricket when he made a hundred against Surrey while still only 17 years-old.

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Nick Browne carried on where he left off continuing in partnership with Jesse Ryder, who hit a quick and exciting 51 before being stumped by Tom Poynton from the bowling of Thakor – Essex had moved on to 505 for 5.

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Nick Browne had looked to be struggling with his leg or hip as he took his tally to an amazing 255 he’d faced 445 balls and had been at the wicket for 552 minutes.  Former Essex man Hamish Rutherford caught Browne from the bowling of Thakor giving him his 43rd wicket – the score 506-6.

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It was a surprise that Essex didn’t declare at this point, but Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster put on another 32 runs before Foster was another LBW victim to Thakor.  The final score for Essex was 538.

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Chesney Hughes and Billy Godleman opened the batting for Derbyshire and dug their heels in, until Aaron Beard making his County Championship debut took the stumps of Godleman, I was thrilled to have my camera trained on the batsman at just the right moment!

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The score was 65 for 1 and another 18 year old had made his mark!  Ravi Bopara took 5 wickets for 49 runs bowling 18 overs, with 90 dot balls to boot.  Beard took a second wicket to add to his debut and Derbyshire were all out for 280 – Ryan ten Doeschate forced the follow on.

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Dogged resistance and the weather meant this match was destined to be a draw – Derbyshire scored 261 for 4  Here’s the full scorecard

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Results elsewhere meant Essex kept their top spot.  New T20 Blast signing Wahab Riaz had been introduced to the crowd prior to the first fixture against Surrey.

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