Specsavers County Championship Division One, Edgbaston (day two):
Warwickshire 517: Lamb 173, Hain 82, Patel 51*, Sibley 51; Harmer 6-143
Essex 31-1: Browne 16*, A Cook 7; Patel 1-1
Essex (2 pts) trail Warwickshire (3 pts) by 486 runs

Matt Lamb’s career-best 173 helped Warwickshire amass their highest home score in over four years to further damage Essex’s County Championship Division One title hopes.

After resuming on their overnight score of 269-3, the Bears batted most of the day before being bowled out for 517.

Lamb was aided by home skipper Jeetan Patel’s 51 not out after a century stand with Henry Brookes (46).

Essex then closed on 31-1, for the loss of Alastair Cook, for just seven.

Lamb enjoyed several ‘lives’ as he more than doubled his previous career-best score of 79, achieved against Derbyshire in May 2018.

On 104, he was caught at slip off Simon Harmer, only for the prolific South African spinner to be no-balled. And then, on 110, in a bizarre incident, Lamb edged to Cook at slip, only for the former England captain to spill the chance.

By then, Lamb had started his walk back to the pavilion – and was run out by Harmer. But Essex quickly withdrew their appeal and he was called back to resume his innings by umpires Nick Cook and David Millns, to warm applause from the Edgbaston crowd.

Lamb was once again put down in the gully by Dan Lawrence off Jamie Porter before his 420-minute marathon ended with a weary swat to mid-wicket off Ravi Bopara.

It looked as if Division One leaders Essex, urgently needing points to keep pace with resurgent Somerset, might be starting to take control earlier in the day

Porter’s beautifully shaped outswinger had Sam Hain caught at third slip, having added just four to his overnight score to depart for 82.

Porter then also persuaded Michael Burgess to edge to the cordon to Harmer, who then struck at the other end to have debutant Ethan Brookes caught at leg slip.

But all that earned them was an extra bowling point as Henry Brookes and Patel helped Lamb take the game increasingly out of the visitors’ reach.

Essex silenced by the Lamb

Lamb’s 173 was the second highest score by a Bears batsman this season, beaten only by Dom Sibley’s 244 against Kent at Canterbury.

It was the third maiden century by a Bears batter in successive home games, following the lead of Adam Hose (against Notts in June) and Rob Yates (against Somerset in August).

Lamb’s ton was the 10th by a Warwickshire batsman in the Championship.

Sibley (three), Sam Hain (two in one match against Hampshire), Will Rhodes and Tim Ambrose are this season’s other century makers.

Matt Lamb told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire:

“To get 173, I ‘d have snapped your hand off for that after day one. I was absolutely delighted. I am sore. The last 10 or 15 overs I faced I had some serious cramps and the lads were bringing me out energy drinks but it is good pain.

“I did feel under some personal pressure. In the two or three Championship games I have played this season I didn’t score many runs, although I played in the last four or five T20 and scored some runs so took some confidence from that.

“I really enjoyed batting with Sam Hain. We have been at the club together for quite a long time but were saying while we were out there that we haven’t actually batted that much together. We had never put on a big partnership so that was really pleasing.”

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath:

“We have certainly got to bat well. Warwickshire played really well and applied themselves well. There is a lot of talk in English cricket about young players not applying themselves and batting time but they were superb – probably one of the best batting displays we have faced this year.

“We have to take notice of that. It is still a good wicket and we have got to get as many runs as possible because bonus points could be very important at the end of the season.

“Warwickshire played superbly well and we are going to have to match that. Jeetan Patel is a fabulous bowler and they have got four seamers as well so we have got to get back the tricky part in the morning and then put some partnerships together.”