PAUL Walter’s maiden first-class century was the main talking point of a largely attritional second day in the LV= Insurance County Championship clash between Essex and Yorkshire at Chelmsford.

The 27-year-old left-hander, who narrowly missed the landmark when out for 93 in last week’s draw with Northamptonshire, can finally tick off the accolade after reaching 141.

With Simon Harmer belatedly raising the tempo with some belligerent blows in his half-century the hosts eventually posted 403, Dom Bess the pick of the White Rose attack with three for 82.

Yorkshire lost Adam Lyth early in reply, while Shane Snater produced the ball of the day to end George Hill’s stylish cameo and Dimuth Karunaratne fell to the last ball of the day from Sam Cook to leave the visitors 81 for three.

Those who came hoping to see Joe Root’s first knock since resigning the England captaincy will have to wait until tomorrow after the visitors opted to send in nightwatchman Matthew Revis at the fall of Hill’s wicket.

The morning revolved around Walter’s quest for that elusive century and given the previous week’s events, he understandably endured a bout of the nervous 90s.

There was plenty of playing and missing at Jordan Thompson and Steven Patterson as, having started the day on 89, he inched towards three figures. In the end, the 13th over of the morning proved lucky for Walter as he worked a ball on his pads off the inside edge down to fine leg for the 12th four of his innings.

Freed of the burden of getting a hundred he played with freedom thereafter, clubbing Bess over the midwicket fence and raising Essex’s 300 with a deft cut for four.

He was given a life on 127 when he drilled Bess straight to cover only for Thompson to shell the catch. And Bess was out of luck again when nightwatchman Sam Cook edged to Lyth at slip via the thigh of wicketkeeper Harry Duke, the deflection enough to see that chance also go to ground.

Cook eventually lost his off stump to a good ball from Hill to end a stand of 73, the only success of a frustrating morning for Yorkshire.

Bess, though, removed Walter with the fourth ball of the afternoon when the centurion slashed to Revis at point and the England spinner made it two in two when he bowled Adam Rossington.

Feroze Kushi survived the hat-trick ball but when he nicked Patterson behind soon afterwards, the hosts had subsided to 322 for seven.

Thereafter, Essex were in survival mode, just 25 runs coming in 19 overs until Simon Harmer, left with only last man Mark Steketee for company, opened his shoulders.

The South Africa international hoisted three big sixes as he raced to 54 in a last-wicket stand of 58 which saw Essex past 400.

Lyth did not last long, lbw to Cook, but Hill was positive from the off as he drove Steketee for successive fours before striking Harmer back over his head for another.

By contrast, Sri Lanka international Karunaratne enjoyed a charmed life, somehow edging one which turned into him from Harmer just over the top of the stumps and out of reach of wicketkeeper Rossington, before being dropped by Harmer at second slip from the bowling of Shane Snater.

Snater gained recompense, removing Hill for 28 with a lifting ball which he edged behind, and Cook gave Rossington more catching practice when Karunaratne’s luck ran out on 36.