|Bob Willis Trophy, Cloudfm County Ground (day three):|
|Essex 262 & 261: Walter 46, A Cook 42; Finch 4-38, Virdi 4-85|
|Surrey 187 & 27-1: Stoneman 16, Patel 10*|
|Surrey (3 pts) need 310 more runs to beat Essex (5 pts) with 9 wickets left|
Essex’s batsmen failed to convert starts into half-centuries but still combined to set Surrey 337 to win in their Bob Willis Trophy game at Chelmsford.
Sir Alastair Cook, Tom Westley, Varun Chopra, Paul Walter and Adam Wheater all scored between 33 and 46 in a second innings total of 261 to help Essex build on a 77-run lead.
Surrey’s bowlers toiled away and Amar Virdi (4-85) and Worcestershire loanee Adam Finch (4-38) were eventually rewarded for their graft.
The visitors almost survived unscathed to stumps after dismissing Essex, but Mark Stoneman fell leg before to Simon Harmer from the last ball of the day to leave the visitors on 27-1 needing a further 310 to win.
Earlier, Nick Browne was a rare exception in the Essex batting line-up as he departed for four in the third over of the morning, tentatively edging Finch behind to wicketkeeper Jamie Smith.
Cook and Westley then put on 47, the former England captain drove and cut nicely as he matched his first-innings score of 42.
But he could not better it as he was lbw to debutant Gus Atkinson – a memorable wicket for the 22-year-old who did not bowl during the 2019 season due to injury.
Westley had endured a tricky start to batting since becoming Essex’s red-ball captain, with scores of 13, 0 and 10.
He seemed to have shaken off the pressures with a confident 34 before he clipped Virdi around the corner to Scott Borthwick at leg slip.
Rikki Clarke had not bowled in the morning session, having slung down 23 overs in the first two days, but struck with just his third delivery when he was introduced after lunch.
Feroze Khushi was his victim, as the first innings fifty-maker was drawn into an inviting full-pitched ball, only to edge to Ryan Patel at second slip.
Chopra, who had collected 36 runs with Westley, added a further 45 with Paul Walter before he diverted Finch to Patel at point for 39.
Walter has found himself as the heir apparent to the currently injured Ryan ten Doeschate’s number six spot – despite formerly being seen primarily as a left-arm fast bowler.
Having scored a useful 33 in the first dig, he proved his high-quality all-round capabilities with a patiently made 46.
But on the brink of a second career 50 he was bowled by off-spinner Virdi, having played his part in a 42-run stand with Wheater.
Wheater (33) kept things ticking with Simon Harmer (14) and Aaron Beard (17), accumulating 28 and 18 with them, before fast bowler Finch and Virdi ripped through the tail – the last three wickets falling in seven balls.
Stoneman and Patel eased through Porter and Sam Cook’s new ball before being tested by Harmer – who eventually struck before the close when the former was trapped leg before.
Report supplied by PA Media.