NED Eckersley made an unbeaten century as Leicestershire dominated day two with bat and ball to close in on a first-innings lead over Essex at Chelmsford.

The wicketkeeper avoided a nervous night as he moved into triple figures in the penultimate over of the day, driving an Oliver Newby delivery through the vacant third man position and earning Leicestershire a second batting point in the process.

Eckersley was on 104 at the close, with Angus Robson unbeaten on 69 at the other end as Leicestershire reached 255 for two, only 26 runs shy of Essex’s tally.

The day began with Essex losing their final four wickets for just 27 runs.

Nathan Buck struck first, removing Kishen Velani for 26, and there was desperately little resistance thereafter.


Monty Panesar is congratulated on the wicket of Greg Smith

Picture: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Buck completed a five-for with the wicket of Newby, all at a cost of 76 runs.

Leicestershire briefly stuttered at the start of their reply when Matthew Boyce was caught behind off Newby for just two to give the on-loan Lancashire man his first scalp for Essex.

But they soon settled down as Greg Smith and Eckersley found their rhythm — and frequently the boundary.

They reached 61 for one at lunch and the runs continued to flow in the afternoon, with Smith bringing up his half-century with a straight drive to make it 95 for one.


Ned Eckersley hit an unbeaten 104 for Leicestershire

Picture: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Monty Panesar was the man to make the breakthrough for Essex, removing Smith for 59, but again it was a temporary blip as Robson and Eckersley built a partnership worth 139 and counting by the close.

Eckersley brought up his half-century with a huge six but it was little wonder that Leicestershire prospered against a depleted Essex attack, and they were forced to bowl spin from both ends when Tymal Mills went off for treatment late in the afternoon.