Tom Westley lays a marker for Essex with double-century ahead of Sam Cook’s late surge

Worcestershire 43 for 3 (Cook 3-14) trail Essex 490 for 9 dec (Westley 213, Wheater 87) by 447 runs

Graham Gooch, the eternal overlord of all he surveys at Chelmsford, was holding court on the balcony at fine leg throughout the second day of Essex’s season opener. “You have to earn your right to score runs in April,” he observed with his connoisseur’s eye, as Tom Westley clicked through his gears with the sort of poise and acceleration that can only have pleased the county’s most famous taskmaster.

If Gooch also had something to say about “daddy hundreds” as he chewed the fat with his host of fellow Essex grandees, Keith Fletcher and David Acfield among them, then he muttered those particular words while the wind was picking up and blowing in the wrong direction off the Can.

But Westley, for whom that phrase is set to take on a more literal meaning come September, needed no cajoling from the otherwise empty stands, to put a very paternal mark on his team’s first innings of the season.

By the time he’d holed out to deep midwicket in the evening session, in Essex’s half-hour surge before their inevitable declaration, Westley had racked up the small matter of 213 runs from 408 balls, in a shade under nine hours of determined accumulation. By the time Worcestershire had limped to 43 for 3 at the close, victims of a savage late surge of three wickets in five balls from Sam Cook, his efforts seemed positively Brobdingnagian.

It was Westley’s second double-century, and his second highest score – behind the 254 he made, also against Worcestershire, in 2016 – and in his second season as county captain (after taking over from Ryan ten Doeschate after Essex’s 2019 Championship victory) he had overhauled in a single visit to the crease the 173 runs he made during his lean run in last year’s Bob Willis Trophy triumph. He’s earned his right to more than just runs in April with this performance.

Resuming on 207 for 3, with Worcestershire’s bowlers already leggy from some fairly fruitless first-day exertions, Westley was not kept waiting for his first century since September 2019. Joe Leach found a tight line to keep things honest from the Hayes Close End, but Charlie Morris – an intermittent menace on the opening day – strayed all too often on to those run-hungry legs, gifting two early flicked fours to get the juices flowing before a soft-handed deflection through the gully carried Westley to 98.

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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