County Championship Division 1
Cook tunes up with record Essex stand
Veteran left-hander helps eclipse 23-year record ahead of England's first Test against the Proteas next week
29 June 2017, 02:46 PM AEST
Alastair Cook looks in tip-top shape for the first Test series of his post-captaincy career after putting on a record opening partnership for Essex on Wednesday.
While it still remains unclear who will partner him at the top of England's order at Lord's next week in the first Test against South Africa, Cook chalked up an Essex record 373-run first-wicket stand with Nick Browne against Middlesex.
Resuming day three at 0-106, the pair strolled past the visitors' first-innings tally of 246, each reaching triple-figures while Cook, who now has three Championship tons this season, looked set to be the first to the 200-mark.
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But Middlesex finally got their first scalp of the match when Ollie Rayner had the ex-England skipper caught at slip for 193. It would have been Cook's fourth first-class double-century; his other three have all come in the Test arena, with his first coming in the 2010 Ashes at the Gabba.
Browne, who's been touted a potential Test opener himself, continued to plunder the Middlesex attack before eventually departing for 221. The 26-year-old's last three triple-figure Championship scores have now all been scores in excess of 200.
Their opening stand of 373 eclipsed Graham Gooch and Paul Prichard's Essex first-wicket benchmark of 316, set in 1994. But Cook and Browne fell short of the overall Essex partnership record of 403, set in 1990 also by Gooch and Prichard, for the second wicket.
Essex first-drop Varun Chopra compounded Middlesex's misery with a rapid unbeaten century after Cook's exit, smashing an even 100 off just 75 balls before the hosts declared on 3-542.
"It is lovely to do that with 'Cookie'," Browne told the BBC at stumps on day three with Middlesex 0-27, trailing by 267. "It's an amazing honour to play with him, let alone have a partnership with him like that.
"He helped me through a lot, and I'd like to think I helped him a little bit as well. It was absolutely outstanding to bat with him for such a long time.
"We didn't know about the record. We heard at tea that the record in games against Middlesex had been beaten by us. We thought this one couldn't be too far away, but when the crowd starting clapping we didn't have a clue."
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Australia quick James Pattinson meanwhile kept his superb county form going, picking up his fourth wicket of Nottinghamshire's match against Kent with a searing yorker to Joe Weatherley. The right-armer now has 32 Championship wickets at just 11.56.
Division Two leaders Nottinghamshire look on track for their sixth win of the season, with Kent finishing day three at 7-214, 23 runs behind the Outlaws.
At Hove, Western Australia opener Cameron Bancroft found form for Gloucestershire, notching his second half-century of the County season with an unbeaten 69 against Sussex to have the visitors trailing by 208 with a day to play.
At Edgbaston, England batting prodigy Haseeb Hameed continued his lean trot, following up his first-innings 17 with 23 in Lancashire's second dig against Warwickshire.
Hameed made 0 and 2 in an England Lions match against South Africa A last week and has failed to pass 50 in first-class cricket since his heroic unbeaten 59 against India in Mohali, where he batted for nealy three hours with a broken finger.
Touted by India skipper Virat Kohli as a "future star", the young opener could miss selection for the Lord's Test against the Proteas.
County Championship scores:
*No play Wednesday due to rain
*No play Wednesday due to rain
Kent 180 (D Bell-Drummond 84 no) & 7-214 v Nottinghamshire 371 (S Mullaney 168, A Hales 85)