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David Wainwright recorded figures of 4-64 as Derbyshire bowled Essex out for 245 on the opening day of the LV=County Championship encounter at the County Ground.
Derbyshire then closed on 28-3, a deficit of 217 runs with seven first innings wickets in hand.
Having won the toss and elected to field first, Derbyshire made solid inroads in the morning session with the dangerous trio of Jaik Mickleburgh (5), Tom Westley (14) and Owais Shah (26) falling to Tony Palladino, Tim Groenewald and Wainwright respectively.
Having reached 77-4 at Lunch, Ryan ten Doeschate – so often the thorn in the side for Derbyshire – and captain James Foster then looked to assert themselves in the middle period; taking the score past 100.
However ten Doeschate fell for 29, trapped LBW playing across the line to the impressive Wainwright to leave Essex 113-5.
Foster and Adam Wheater then briefly took the attack to the home side with an array of boundaries, only for Foster (31) to fall to a direct hit from Wayne Madsen whilst attempting a single to mid-off; Essex 144-6.
Wheater then fell shortly after, LBW to Mark Turner for 26, before Graham Napier and David Master’s unbroken 50 run stand took Essex to 201-7 at Tea.
The pair then added a further 24 in the evening session before Napier fell, caught Wes Durston and bowled Wainwright for 42, before Chambers became the spinner’s fourth victim with the help of a catch from Turner for two.
Shortly after, Masters became the final wicket to fall, run out Ross Whiteley for 35, Essex 245 all out with 15 overs remaining in the day; Wainwright finishing with figures of 4-64.
Derbyshire then had a tricky 15 over spell to negotiate before the close of play, and the hosts lost Madsen (2) and Usman Khawaja (0) both to Masters before night-watchman Tony Palladino (5) fell to Napier in the penultimate over of the day.
Derbyshire closed on with Paul Borrington 14* and Wes Durston 0*; Derbyshire ...behind with seven first innings wickets remaining.
Derbyshire: Madsen (c), Borrington, Khawaja, Durston, Redfern, Whiteley, Wainwright, Poynton (wk), Palladino, Groenewald, Turner.
Essex: Westley, Mickleburgh, Shah, Pettini, ten Doeschate, Foster (c & wk), Wheater, Napier, Masters, Craddock, Chambers.
© 2014 Derbyshire County Cricket Club
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