CHAMPIONS Warwickshire enjoyed a strong first day of their LV=Insurance County Championship match with Essex after the visitors' decision to bat first backfired at Edgbaston.

Essex chose to bat on a good-looking pitch but were bowled out for 168 as only Tom Westley, with 80, showed the requisite patience against an accurate home attack.

From a relatively solid 98 for two just after lunch, the visitors suffered a post-lunch implosion of five wickets for 11 runs in 43 balls.

Seam bowlers Olly Hannon-Dalby and Liam Norwell shared five wickets before Danny Briggs did a consummate spinner's job by briskly taking out the lower order with four for 31.

Warwickshire's batsmen were then made to work hard in reply but they reached the close on 76 for two with Dom Sibley unbeaten on 33.

Essex, unchanged from the team that beat Somerset at Taunton last week, did not hesitate to bat against a Warwickshire attack without injured England pair Olly Stone and Chris Woakes, but soon lost both openers.

Nick Browne edged Hannon-Dalby behind, then Alastair Cook was lbw to Will Rhodes's sixth ball for 23.

Dan Lawrence started like a train, hitting five fours from his first 14 balls, then lost steam in reaching 30 from 62 and was derailed by a full-length Hannon-Dalby delivery which eluded an airy drive to hit off-stump.

That triggered a collapse accelerated by two careless dismissals as Matt Critchley nicked a slash at Hannon-Dalby and Adam Rossington lifted Norwell to cover.

Simon Harmer was also culpable, missing an across-the-line swat at Briggs after Adam Wheater nicked a good one from Norwell. Shane Snater lifted Briggs for six but sent an attempted repeat into the hands of deep mid-wicket.

Warwick-born Aussie Mark Steketee hung around to helped Lawrence add 30 but then played back fatally to the spinner who polished off the innings when Lawrence tried to land one in the Family Stand but was calmly taken by Matt Lamb eight and a half inches inside the rope.

Warwickshire's reply was given a lively launch by debutant Alex Davies but Essex hit back well as Davies edged Sam Cook to second slip and Rob Yates was pinned lbw by Steketee.

The seamers, led by the impressive Snater, bowled well and got a few past the bat in an intense and high-quality last hour but Sibley and Sam Hain survived to add an unbroken 30 in 16 overs.

But a difficult day for Essex brought another worrying twist, for England too, in its closing stages when Lawrence pulled up sharply while chasing a Sibley drive, and limped off in some discomfort, clutching his hamstring.