Essex 391 for 7 (Lawrence 152, Westley 114) vs Warwickshire
Lawrence, allowed to play by England on the proviso he is ready to scuttle down to Lord’s if required, when he will be replaced in the Essex line-up by nominated substitute Nick Browne, gave full range to his shots in an immaculate 152, his second century of the season.
The third-wicket pair put on 227 in 59 overs of elegant stroke-play until Westley dragged Ed Barnard to short midwicket. His 193-ball 114 took his season’s tally to 739 runs, by far the most of any player in Division One.
Matt Critchley upped the tempo with 47 from 43 balls in a 70-run stand with Lawrence, who finally departed after five and a half hours, 225 balls and 15 fours, a second victim for Warwickshire loanee Dom Bess. By the close, Essex had amassed 391 for seven
Westley had won the toss on a green-tinged Chelmsford wicket used previously for a one-day international between Bangladesh and Ireland, and consigned Warwickshire to a sweaty day under floppy sunhats in the field.
The captain found himself at the wicket at the end of the first over after Feroze Khushi – replacing Browne at the top of the order – dabbed at a ball from Chris Rushworth and nicked behind.
Lawrence joined Westley five overs later to resurrect Essex from 20 for two after Alastair Cook was tucked up by Hassan Ali and also went caught behind.
Warwickshire had lost spinner Danny Briggs when he limped out of the Blast last week with a hamstring injury and acted quickly by bringing in Bess on loan from Yorkshire.
Westley took a liking to the one-time England spinner and cracked two fours through the covers before bouncing down the wicket and striking him over midwicket for another boundary. Bess toiled in the sun and ended the first day of his Warwickshire spell with figures of 32-1-143-2.
Westley passed fifty for the sixth time in the Championship this season when he drove his 72nd ball to mid-on for a single. It was marginally quicker – by two balls – than Lawrence’s third score beyond fifty this year.
The partnership was worth 99 at lunch and clicked on to three figures from 150 balls straight after. By tea, another 128 runs were added in 34 overs.
In between, Lawrence was showing what Essex will miss when he moves to Surrey at the end of the season. There was a glorious off-drive to the fence off Hassan Ali and then an effortless straight-drive off the Pakistan bowler.
Warwickshire had also brought in the 30-year-old wrist spinner Jake Lintott at the expense of Olly Hannon-Dalby for only his second first-class appearance. Westley took a liking to him, too. Indeed, his 17th boundary, driven through the covers, took him to his century from 154 balls.
Lawrence’s ton also came from 154 balls when he flicked Will Rhodes through midwicket for his 11th four.
After Westley’s four-hour stay ended to the first ball after tea, Critchley took up the cudgels, punishing Barnard for his audacity in removing the captain with three boundaries in an over.
A six straight back over Bess’s head by Critchley brought up the fifty partnership in just 10 overs. But the ball after he had deposited Lintott over midwicket for a second maximum, he presented the spinner with his first red-ball wicket by slashing a skyer to backward point. He later added Simon Harmer, caught behind, to return figures of 2 for 56
In between, Bess took a debut wicket when he had Paul Walter chipping to short mid-on, but was then reverse-swept for the four that brought up Lawrence’s 150. However, Bess claimed Lawrence’s scalp when he flicked a catch off his legs