DAN Lawrence returned from his England adventures with a well-made 46 as Essex began their defence of the LV= Insurance County Championship and Bob Willis Trophy against Worcestershire.

Lawrence made his Test debut over the off-season with appearances in Sri Lanka and India, and recalibrated himself to English conditions quickly at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford.

He put on 73 for the third wicket with captain Tom Westley, who starred with an unbeaten 84, as Essex totted up 207 for three before bad light stopped play, with almost 15 overs lost in the day.

Essex, who lifted the inaugural Bob Willis Trophy last year and had won in the Championship in two of the three previous campaigns, elected to bat first in freezing conditions.

Alastair Cook and Nick Browne were watchful in the early stages on a green-tinged, but ultimately benign, wicket as they scored 30 in the first 13.3 overs before the former departed.

Cook, who is in the last of his three-year post-England career contract, was plumb lbw to a Charlie Morris delivery which appeared to nip back a touch.

His opening partner Browne continued in a similar vein with Westley before loosely driving Ed Barnard on the up to Jake Libby at cover.

As the sun appeared at lunch, the run-scoring became harder with the Worcestershire attack – which were metronomically accurate throughout the day - forcing Westley and Lawrence to bat carefully.

Lawrence, 23, scored 248 runs in five outings in hot and humid conditions in the sub-continent – the Chelmsford environment couldn’t have been much different, as he auditioned to keep his place in the national side with early season form.

He was largely forced to work for his runs, but scored four boundaries - all with a pleasing aesthetic.

His first was an on-drive while leaning over towards the off-side, he followed that with a cut-drive-jab hybrid through point and a controlled flash through the same region soon after.

The fourth, and final, of his fours was a showcase in timing as he rocked onto his back foot and pushed to the long-on boundary.

The right-hander departed a tantalising four runs short of a half-century, when he was adjudged lbw to Barnard.

Westley continued with an unbeaten 76 stand with Paul Walter, who ended the day on 26.

The five-capped Test batsman was made Essex’s four-day captain last year but endured a tricky Bob Willis Trophy campaign – he scored just one half-century and averaged 17.

But a winter working up his game-plans was rewarded as he reached a patient 129-ball fifty and raced past 20,500 first-class runs.

Over 70 per cent of Westley's runs came on the leg-side, typified with a selection of delightful on-drives, powerful pulls and flicks off his legs, before dingy April conditions prevented him from marching to three figures.