|LV= County Championship Division One, Edgbaston, Birmingham (day three)|
|Essex 168: Westley 80; Briggs 4-31, Hannon-Dalby 3-43 & 290-8: Harmer 60*, Rossington 52, Critchley 49, Lawrence 44, A Cook 36; Hannon-Dalby 3-36|
|Warwickshire 385: Burgess 170, Lamb 71, Sibley 33; Steketee 4-130, S Cook 3-72|
|Essex (2 pts) lead Warwickshire (6 pts) by 73 runs with two wickets remaining|
England’s Dan Lawrence defied a torn hamstring to make 44 batting with a runner as Essex’s day-long rear-guard action denied Warwickshire victory inside the distance at Edgbaston.
But, despite three more scalps for Olly Hannon-Dalby, Essex batted grittily.
The Bears will still start day four looking hot favourites to record a first win of 2022, just 72 runs behind and needing just two more wickets.
Simon Harmer (60 not out) holds the key when the visitors resume on Sunday.
He will resume with Mark Steketee for company after the late loss of Shane Snater, who chipped bowling substitute Craig Miles to mid-wicket after a lively 21 from 33 balls.
But Snater’s was the last of a string of contributions from an Essex side who, resuming on 0-1 after the previous evening’s loss of Nick Browne for a duck, looked sure to lose by an innings inside three days on 172-6 – still 45 behind.
Warwickshire took just two wickets in the morning session – both caught behind by Michael Burgess – when Will Rhodes removed opposing captain Tom Westley with a bit of extra bounce and Hannon-Dolby first beat Alastair Cook outside his off stump then got him out next ball with a similar delivery.
Matt Critchley then hit 49 before having his middle stump uprooted by Hannon-Dalby before Adam Wheater skied Henry Brookes to mid off.
Essex had advised the previous evening that Lawrence, injured late on the first day was unlikely to bat. But, with Critchley back out there as his runner, after losing Adam Rossington for 52, he then shared in a seventh-wicket stand of 81 in 29 overs with Harmer before being caught behind.
That was a second wicket for Miles, who carried on as concussion substitute for Liam Norwell, who was ruled out of the rest of this match after being hit on the head while batting on Friday.
A scan has revealed no serious damage for Norwell who will now rest for a few days.
Warwickshire concussion substitute Craig Miles:
“It was a bizarre way for me to come into the game. Liam is doing okay, which is great to hear. I certainly didn’t expect to play so it’s great to be back in the side with a chance to contribute.
“It was nice to get a couple of wickets today because I didn’t pick any up against Surrey. To get those two at the back end was great because Lawrence and Harmer had formed a good partnership and Snater was playing very positively.
“Now we’ve just got to get these last two wickets at quickly as we can and then the top order can go about their business and hopefully the sun will be shining by then.”
Essex captain Tom Westley:
“It was a good effort from the batters. Critch and Rosso putting a partnership together was really important and then it was a brilliant effort in the last session from Harmy and Snates.
“One of the special character traits of Harmy is that he always finds a way to contribute. He probably hasn’t got the wickets he would have liked in this game so far but he always finds a way to make a contribution.
“If you look at our batting in the whole game we have probably gifted them a few too many wickets but, with a lead going into the fourth day, hopefully we can put on another little partnership and you never know.
“Look at us last week against Somerset. If we have got some runs to bowl, a win is still possible.”