County Championship: Alastair Cook hits 58 as Essex respond against Lancashire
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Emirates Old Trafford (day two):|
|Lancashire 301: Clark 79, Chanderpaul 58; Harmer 3-35, S Cook 3-65|
|Essex 221-6: Cook 58; Mennie 3-40, Onions 2-69|
|Essex (4 pts) trail Lancashire (5 pts) by 80 runs with four wickets left|
England Test opener Alastair Cook kept himself in good form with a fourth first-class half-century of the summer to help county champions Essex rally against Lancashire at Old Trafford.
Lancashire earned their third batting point before being bowled out for 301.
Cook survived a dropped catch on 22 and the early loss of Varun Chopra to Graham Onions as Essex raced to 119-1.
But Cook (58) and Tom Westley (41) both went in a burst of wickets before Ryan ten Doeschate (43) took Essex to 221-6.
Before rain ended play for the day early in the final session, Essex owed most of their score to two fine partnerships.
Firstly, Cook and Westley put on 110, then ten Doeschate and Adam Wheater (31 not out) shared a stand of 81. But both partnerships were the product of dropped catches.
Cook was dropped at slip off Joe Mennie by his former England opening partner Haseeb Hameed, and Wheater was put down in the slips off Jordan Clark while on nought by Cook's current England opening partner Keaton Jennings.
The day's best bit of fielding was the run-out of ten Doeschate by a superb bit of wicketkeeping by Dane Vilas. Responding to the Essex skipper's dab into the off side, he came round from behind his stumps to brilliantly score a direct hit at the bowler's end.
That came at the end of a highly entertaining afternoon session which began with Mennie (3-40) and Onions taking four wickets in nine overs as Essex went from 114-1 at lunch to 214-6 at tea.
Lancashire seamer Joe Mennie:
"We started well with the new ball and then went a bit both sides of the wicket. They got a good partnership together. But we hit our areas a bit better after lunch.
"Alastair Cook played and missed at a few and we dropped him early doors, so I thought he was in for a big one. But to get him out when he'd set himself and was looking pretty dangerous is a big confidence booster for me.
"We've set the game up pretty nicely. It's at a delicate stage, but it was a good day overall for us. Ideally, we want to take four quick wickets in the morning and get a bit of a lead."
Essex coach Anthony McGrath:
"It's been an absorbing game. We were disappointed when the rain came. Adam Wheater was batting well.
"It was disappointing the way the partnership between Tendo and Wheater came to an end in the manner it did. But that's cricket.
"We looked to have recovered well after the early loss of Varun Chopra, but then those quick wickets in the afternoon put us on the back foot."