Lawrence century gives Essex 78-run first innings lead over Gloucestershire at Cheltenham

Essex have built a first innings lead of 78 against Gloucestershire in their County Championship fixture at Cheltenham

Lawrence century gives Essex 78-run first innings lead over Gloucestershire at Cheltenham
Dan Lawrence on the charge at Cheltenham (image credit: Harry Trump / Stringer via Getty Images)

Division Two leaders Essex are in a good position in their County Championship fixture against Gloucestershire thanks to a century from 19-year-old Dan Lawrence

Jamie Porter struck twice to finish off the home sides innings for 255, mainly thanks to the last three wickets which accounted for 115 runs. 

Essex started poorly in their response, with Josh Shaw removing the top-order before Lawrence hit an immaculate 127 to give the Chelmsford-side a 78-run lead after the first innings at the end of day two. 

Tail continues to wag as Gloucestershire reach 255

An enthralling first day of the 2016 Cheltenham Cricket Festival had seen Gloucestershire reach 99-1 before tall Kiwi quick Matt Quinn ripped the heart out of the batting lineup with a career best 7-62 which at one point left them 140-7 during the afternoon session. 

A fightback lead by Craig Miles, who finished day one unbeaten on 45, saw the hosts reach 218-8 at the close as they managed to move towards setting a more acceptable first innings total. 

Having shared in a club-record tenth-wicket partnership of 137 against Worcestershire at the same venue two seasons ago, Miles and his partner Liam Norwell are more than capable with the bat. Bowlers by trade, the duo played a nice array of shots during the opening overs of the day, with Norwell in particular impressing against day one hero Quinn, playing some extravagant drives. 

Miles bought up his half-century in the fifth over the day, playing the ball down to the fine-leg boundary off of Graham Napier to bring up his milestone from 73 deliveries. 

The change in approach from Essex didn't work at first, with Norwell smashing the first ball faced from left-arm spinner Ashar Zaidi on to the roof of the former player's marquee, bringing up Gloucestershire's 2nd batting bonus point in the process. 

Having reached 58, Miles was cleaned-up by Porter who's yorker with just his fourth delivery of the morning proved to be too hot for the 21-year-old, leaving the home side 254-9. Then in his second over of the day, Porter wrapped-up the innings, having Norwell caught in the slips by Nick Browne for 31, with Gloucestershire posting 255 in their first knock. 

Shaw makes early inroads as Essex top-order faulters

After a couple of early edges to the third-man boundary, David Payne could have been forgiven for thinking his luck was out as the sun broke through the clouds, offering the Essex batsmen favourable conditions as they got their reply underway. 

Fortunately for the left-armer, the next edge from Browne's bat headed straight for the hands of Chris Dent at second-slip who pouched the catch with ease to bring the first wicket for 14 runs, all of which had been accumulated by Browne. 

Having looked in good touch for his 24, Essex's number three Tom Westley looked set to continue his excellent season, hitting five boundaries early in his knock.  The runs soon began to dry up though, and Yorkshire-loanee Josh Shaw then accounted for his wicket, trapping him LBW after the ball cannoned into his front pad giving umpire Billy Taylor an easy decision. 

Josh Shaw impressed for the hosts with figures of 4-72 (image source: getty via cricinfo)

Shaw was soon on a roll, and removed former England batsman Ravi Bopara with the first ball of his second over, having him caught in the slips for a golden duck to leave the visitors 57-3, before Lawrence survived the hat-trick ball.

Lawrence and Ten Doeschate bring Essex close to parity with century stand 

A good fielding effort from the home side backed-up the seam bowlers who continued to toil away and keep the Essex batsmen in check. Shaw, who had impressed in his first spell captured his third wicket of the innings, when Jaik Mickelburgh's 83-ball vigil was bought to an end on 34 by a smart catch by Jack Taylor at mid-wicket. 

It was then down to England under-19 star Lawrence and Essex captain Ryan Ten Doeschate to push the innings in the right direction, and they did just that, batting for much of the afternoon session and sharing a century stand. 

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Ryan Ten Doeschate and Dan Lawrence reach a century partnership (image source: Harry Trump / Stringer via Getty)

Just after the 100 partnership had ticked over on the scoreboard, and with both men having raised their bats to celebrate reaching 50, Shaw had his fourth scalp of the innings. The youngster continued to impress, trapping Ten Doeschate in-front, with the Essex captain losing his wicket for 52 as they moved on to 182-5.

Miles wraps up innings after Foster counter-attack

The evening session belonged to Lawrence, who looks set for a big future in the game. The right-handed batsman who fired himself into the limelight when becoming the third-youngest century maker in County Championship history last year, bought up his third first-class ton at a sun-kissed College Ground

After Norwell got the wicket his bowling had deserved when he had Ashar Zaidi caught by Kieran Noema-Barnett in the slips for 21, Lawrence took over and played a vast array of shots on both sides of the wicket in an innings which really caught the eye. 

Many of Lawrence's best moments at the crease are brought about by extravagantly wristy shots which are reminiscent of Jos Buttler in his prime. The 19-year-old, who celebrated his birthday on Tuesday, went through the 80's and 90's in no-time whatsoever before tapping Noema-Barnett to cover, and calling his partner through for the century-making run. 

Once he'd reached three-figures Lawrence upped the anti, bringing out a flamingo shot and a number of booming drives which had the festival proud purring, so much so that you could sense the disappointment when he was caught for 127 by Miles at mid-wicket. 

Napier then came-and-went for a duck, before James Foster took over, hitting eight boundaries in his 47 as he went about consolidating Essex's strong position in the match.

The leadhad reached 78 before Miles had Foster caught by Hamish Marshall, with Quinn then following in the next over on the same score, with the final wicket bringing an end to the day's play.