County Championship Division Two, Chelmsford
Close, day two: Hampshire 197 & 77-2 v Essex 254
Essex 5pts, Hants 3pts
Graham Napier and England captain Alastair Cook made contrasting half centuries to help Essex to a first-innings lead against Hampshire.
They slumped to 117-7, but Cook batted for over four hours for 59 and Napier hit a six and nine fours in his 74.
The home side were eventually all out for 254, James Tomlinson and Danny Briggs each taking three wickets.
Trailing by 57, Hampshire lost both openers cheaply, but ended day two at Chelmsford back in credit on 77-2.
Cook’s innings was exactly what he needed in terms of time at the crease ahead of the Test series against New Zealand, but with his side starting the day on 72-5, it was not a situation permitting him to indulge any notion of extravagant strokeplay.
Napier, however, was willing to play his normal game and shared a ninth-wicket stand of 87 with Tim Phillips (40 not out) before falling leg-before to Chris Wood.
An excellent short-leg catch by Ben Foakes to dismiss Hampshire opener Michael Carberry for two off David Masters was a highlight of the final session, but Liam Dawson (31) and George Bailey (26) added 56 together before the close, with neither side having a clear advantage at the half-way point of the match.