Nick Browne’s career-best 154 not out led Essex’s progress as Derbyshire endured a frustrating first day at Chelmsford.
Browne shared century stands with Ravi Bopara and Dan Lawrence, who hit 49 and 51 not out respectively, and defied the Derbyshire attack for the entire day.
Tony Palladino picked up two wickets in the morning session against his former county but Shiv Thakor was to pick up the only other wicket of the day as Essex reached stumps on 284-3.
Palladino said: “The last couple of years when we’ve been here when it’s done it it’s done it early. It was a bit tackier and slower than we thought it would be. There was a little bit in the first session and we had them two down, could have had them three down, and three down in the first session you’d take that normally.
“We’ve had it under control today as well as we have all year, we’ll bowl worse than that and bowl a side out. We need to come back tomorrow full of beans and try and knock them over as cheaply as possible.
“It’s one of the best changing rooms I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone plays for each other. Days like that it could so easily drift and blokes go into their shell, but the boys have kept going all day.
“I know for a fact our luck will change and we’re going to knock over a team soon, I can just feel it. It will happen and we have to keep believing it.”
The hosts’ opening pair of Browne and Jaik Mickleburgh made a fast start, scoring 20 from the first three overs of the day, before the visiting attack tightened their lines to set the tone for the day.
The pair made sound progress throughout the morning until Palladino struck in the 19th over of the day when Mickleburgh was adjudged lbw on 24 to end a 61-run partnership for the first wicket.
Palladino struck in his next over when the in-form Tom Westley was out in similar circumstances without scoring. Browne and Bopara then ensured that the hosts took lunch on 101-2, despite a couple of near misses for Derbyshire.
Browne had reached his half-century from 78 balls before the lunch break and continued to make progress after the break with Bopara also defying the Derbyshire bowlers.
The visitors finally got the wicket that their tight afternoon bowling deserved when Thakor had Bopara lbw just one short of a half-century to leave Essex 189-3 at tea. Browne had reached his 10th first-class century with his 18th four shortly before tea.
The meandering pace of the day continued after tea with Lawrence aiding Browne in his quest to ensure that his side had firm control of the fixture after the first day.
They shared an unbeaten century stand throughout the final session as Essex closed on 284-3 with Browne on a career-best 154 not out and with Lawrence having passed his half-century.
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