MICHAEL Burgess’ second successive century lifted Warwickshire to a first innings lead of 217 over Essex in a pulsating LV=Insurance County Championship tussle at Edgbaston.

Replying to Essex’s 168, the home side made 385 with Burgess following his 178 against Surrey last week with 170 off 217 balls, including 20 fours and five sixes).

Along with Matt Lamb (71), the wicketkeeper ensured that Essex would start the second innings of this Division One contest under serious pressure.

It soon told. Given three awkward overs to bat before the close, they lost Nick Browne, to reach stumps at nought for one.

With two powerful teams going toe to toe, the cricket has been absorbing, hard-fought, and bruising.

Whether Dan Lawrence, who damaged a hamstring in the field on the first evening, will bat in Essex’s second innings remains to be seen, while Bears paceman Liam Norwell is out of the match, concussed after taking a lifting Mark Steketee delivery on the head.

Craig Miles has replaced his former Gloucestershire team-mate for the rest of the game.

After Warwickshire resumed on the second morning on 76 for two, Essex had a dream start when Dom Sibley (33) edged the first ball of the day from Shane Snater to wicketkeeper Adam Wheater.

Snater soon struck again when Will Rhodes was well held by Simon Harmer above his head at second slip.

When Sam Hain’s obdurate 29 from 107 balls was ended by an edge to the keeper off Steketee, at 124 for five Essex scented an opportunity, only for Lamb and Burgess to bat positively and add 113 in 36 overs.

Lamb maintained his first class career average of 70-plus against Essex before a fine ball from Sam Cook found his middle stump.

The impressive Cook, who ended with three wickets for 72 runs, soon had Danny Briggs caught at slip before Henry Brookes chipped Steketee to mid-on and Norwell took a rising delivery from the Australian on the head and was forced to retire hurt.

Burgess responded to the arrival of number 11 Olly Hannon-Dalby with a blitz of four successive fours off Steketee which took him to a superb century and his team past 300.

After Harmer trapped Hannon-Dalby lbw, with Norwell incapacitated, Miles went in as concussion substitute – and proved a highly effective one.

As Burgess climbed into spectacular attack, the last-wicket added 64 in seven overs to turn the lead from handy to significant.

Burgess was finally castled by Steketee who finished with four for 130.

The scoreboard pressure then brought an immediate victim when Browne edged Hannon-Dalby’s seventh ball to Sam Hain at second slip, leaving Essex with a lot of batting to do to.