ESSEX have moved to the top of the County Championship Division One standings after securing an eight-wicket win over Surrey.

Tom Westley and Nick Browne enjoyed a fine innings with the bat, and were instrumental in leading Essex to victory.

While opening batsman Browne was dismissed for 77, Westley remained at the wicket until the close of play and finished on 108 not out.

Westley’s superb century also saw him become Essex’s highest run scorer in the County Championship this season.

The batsman has now racked up an impressive 474 runs this term.

Needing 253 after bowling Surrey out for 288 earlier in the day, Essex reached 253/2 little more than half-an-hour after tea and always looked in control.

Westley was joined in an unbroken third wicket partnership of 105 in 27 overs by Dan Lawrence, who finished unbeaten on 32.

Essex took 24 points from their third win of the season, with Surrey having to settle for seven.

Since gaining promotion last year, Essex have surprised the rest of the First Division with their early-season success.

But this was a comprehensive win against a team who led Division One until the last round of matches and was achieved despite seamer Matt Quinn suffering a back spasm on day one, which has prevented him from bowling since.

Essex began their chase well, with a half-century stand posted by Browne and Alastair Cook.

But Cook was out on the stroke of lunch for 31 when, having just driven Ravi Rampaul to the cover boundary, he was drawn into another off drive and edged to Scott Borthwick at second slip.

Browne was eventually caught at slip from a ball which turned and bounced, playing back to Gareth Batty’s off-spin, but not before he and Westley had added a further 95 for the second wicket.

The left-hander had faced just 96 balls, hitting 13 fours, and in the latter half of his innings he produced some quality strokes – including an effortless straight drive for four to greet Stuart Meaker’s introduction into the attack and then a dismissive short-armed pull to the boundary off Ravi Rampaul.

Batty’s off-spin did not trouble the Essex batsmen in the same way that former South Africa Test off-spinner Simon Harmer had made Surrey battle for runs in his second innings return of 4-83 from 39 overs.

The confident Westley moved to 97 with three successive fours off Scott Borthwick’s leg spin, and then completed three figures with a pull for four off Meaker.

Westley’s hundred came from 162 balls and, overall, he faced 168 balls, hitting 17 fours.

In the morning session, Ben Foakes finished unbeaten on 65, from 149 balls, as Surrey added just 35 runs to their overnight total of 253/7 before the innings ended in a rush of poor shots and crazy running.

Meaker drove a half-volley from left arm paceman Neil Wagner to extra cover to go for 14, and two balls later Rampaul clipped the same bowler to backward square leg.

Foakes was then left stranded when he drove Wagner down the ground, looking for two, but Lawrence moved quickly in the field, returned the ball to the bowler and there was never any chance of a second run.

Mark Footitt, however, turning blind, set off for the second even though Foakes had clearly decided against it, and Wagner lobbed the ball down the pitch for wicketkeeper James Foster to whip off the bails with Footitt helpless in mid-pitch.

Surrey and Essex had scored 399 and 435 in the first innings respectively.