Snater four-for leaves Lancashire in bother

Shane Snater celebrates a wicket Getty Images

Essex 68 for 1 (Khushi 53) trail Lancashire 146 (Snater 4-42) by 78 runs

Shane Snater rediscovered the form with the ball that deserted him last season to drive a massive hole in some fragile Lancashire batting on a rain-shortened day at Chelmsford.

The Zimbabwe-born Dutch international blasted out the top three in the Lancashire order at a personal cost of one run before returning to add a fourth for figures of 4 for 42. Snater took just eight expensive wickets in an injury-ravaged campaign last year, having taken a combined 67 in the two previous seasons. He now has 10 wickets in three Vitality County Championship matches this April.

He was ably supported by fellow seamer Sam Cook, who managed to marry both hostility and parsimony to finish with 3 for 18 from 14 overs, as Lancashire limped to 146 all out. In 12 overs under the floodlights, Feroze Khushi refused to hang about with nine fours in a whirlwind 53 from 33 balls as Essex knocked 68 off the deficit for the loss of his wicket, caught in the slips off George Balderson.

A mid-morning downpour encouraged Essex captain Tom Westley to ask Lancashire to bat on a green-tinged wicket and local knowledge proved decisive inside the 45 minutes possible before lunch once Snater had been introduced. The seamer removed Keaton Jennings to a magnificent flying catch in the gully by Matt Critchley in his first over, and trapped the freewheeling Luke Wells plumb lbw in the next.

Wells had plundered 13 runs - including a straight-driven four and a six flicked off his legs - in a Jamie Porter over that led to the bowler's departure from the attack after conceding 22 runs from three overs.

The brief morning session completed, the players had barely reached the pavilion for lunch when the latest April shower lengthened the interval by more than an hour and three-quarters. When they did return in mid-afternoon, Josh Bohannon faced just nine more scoreless balls before he edged Snater and Dean Elgar took a stunning one-handed catch low down at first slip.

Cook bowled unchanged for nearly two of the truncated sessions and gained reward in his ninth over when Balderson failed to withdraw his bat in time and was caught behind.

George Bell hit two of his four career half-centuries at Chelmsford last season, and added a high of 99 against Hampshire last week, but Snater's first ball after tea had him bang to rights in front of his stumps for just 4. However, his one scoring stroke in 22 balls had been a sumptuous straight drive that was arguably the most aesthetic shot of the day.

The Lancashire slide continued apace when Matty Hurst hung his bat out to Cook and was a second victim for wicketkeeper Michael Pepper. Tom Bruce got a leading edge to chip Porter to mid-on before 19-year-old Noah Thain claimed a wicket on debut with his third ball in first-class cricket when Tom Bailey steered to second slip.

However, the ninth-wicket partnership between Jack Blatherwick and Will Williams proved to be the biggest of the innings, helping to repair the damage of 92 for 8 with some lusty hitting.

With a six apiece, the pair put on fifty in 36 balls before Blatherwick went for another heave to Simon Harmer's second ball of the game and holed out on the long-leg boundary. Cook wrapped up the innings when he had Nathan Lyon held at point to leave Williams not out on 32.

Lancashire 3rd innings Partnerships

1st6LWP WellsKK Jennings
2nd16LWP WellsWSA Williams
3rd17LWP WellsJJ Bohannon
4th4LWP WellsGP Balderson
5th5TC BruceGP Balderson
6th0TC BruceGJ Bell
7th30GJ BellMF Hurst
8th25TE BaileyGJ Bell
9th2JM BlatherwickGJ Bell
10th2NM LyonGJ Bell