REECE Topley provided further proof of his blossoming talent with an impressive five-wicket haul before Essex let opponents Gloucestershire off the hook on the opening day at Chelmsford.
The 21-year-old left-arm seamer made use of the greenish pitch to claim his successes at a personal cost of 53 and in doing so went some way to confirming that he has overcome a stress fracture of the back which forced him to miss the first six Championship games of the season.
Now playing his third Championship match of the summer, he has bagged 20 wickets – including 10 in the match against Glamorgan on his return to four-day cricket — as the hosts bowled Gloucestershire out for 224 before reaching 75 for no loss by stumps.
David Masters took four wickets for the hosts, while Graham Napier marked his return from injury by claiming the wicket of Jack Taylor to conclude the Gloucestershire innings.
Essex looked to be in control as the visitors slumped to 100-7 with the loss of wicketkeeper Adam Rouse (28).
But the tail wagged as Tom Smith (17) Matthew Taylor (40), David Payne (48no) and Jack Taylor (26) doubled Gloucestershire’s run rally on the opening day.
Tom Westley hit ten fours in his unbeaten 46 and Nick Browne had three to his name among his 28 runs.
Essex will resume their innings tomorrow 149 runs behind their visitors.