County Championship: Essex frustrated by bad light against Surrey
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Cloudfm County Ground (day one):|
|Surrey 137-4: Smith 34, Foakes 31*; Porter 2-47|
|Essex: Yet to bat|
|Essex 1pts, Surrey 0pts|
Title-chasing Essex did their best to make up for lost time by picking up four Surrey wickets on a reduced opening day at Chelmsford.
Bad light prevented any play until 14:15 BST, with the visitors opting to bat after winning the toss.
Pace bowler Jamie Porter sent back openers Mark Stoneman (16) and Scott Borthwick (21) in successive overs.
Sam Cook struck twice after tea before the light closed in to end play with Surrey 137-4 and Ben Foakes 31 not out.
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Essex face County Championship leaders Somerset in their final game of the season next week and belatedly began play against Surrey, the 2018 champions, with an eight-point deficit to make up.
Surrey included pace bowler Liam Plunkett, for his first Championship appearance since the match between the same two sides at The Oval in April.
But he was not needed on the opening day with skipper Foakes relying on his batting line-up to blunt the Essex attack.
They made decent start before Porter trapped Stoneman lbw and then had Borthwick caught behind by Adam Wheater.
Surrey were 88-2 at tea but lost England's Ollie Pope, lbw to Cook for 23, immediately after the re-start, earning Essex their first bowling point.
Jamie Smith followed in the seamer's next over, but Foakes made a positive start to his innings before gloomy overhead conditions halted play with just 46.3 overs bowled in the day.
Essex bowling coach Andre Nel:
"You can't control what's happening anywhere else. All we can control is what we can control and make sure we are on the button in the morning. That is going to be crucial for us.
"Hopefully we can strike up front and try and bowl them out as cheaply as possible. Then we'll need to bat well and take it from there.
"It's slightly better than the Chelmsford wickets we've played on this season. It's slightly drier and it's not moving as much.
"But we still need to bowl slightly better and with a bit more patience. If we do, and get them out for 200-250, we're still in with a good chance."
Surrey opener Mark Stoneman told BBC Radio London:
"With the lack of grass on the pitch and the belief it will take some turn later on in the game, we felt if we got through a challenging period we could then look to post a big total.
"If you get too concerned with the elements you can shoot yourself in the foot. And it offered the seamers a bit more than we first thought.
"But, all in all, having lost just the four wickets, if the sun's shining the aim will be to take a hold of the game.
"They've got a good balanced attack, especially if there's any movement on offer, but it was good to get a couple of decent partnerships to set ourselves up for day two."