ESSEX'S new-ball bowlers, Sam Cook and Jamie Porter, left Lancashire’s first innings in tatters on the second afternoon of this game and the visitors ended a rain-shortened day completely in control of the LV= Insurance County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.

Replying to the home side’s 391, in which Dan Lawrence made 120 and Shane Snater 72, the home side were 32 for five and the only solace for home supporters was that the rain prevented any play after tea.

The only grit in the porridge from an Essex perspective was that Lawrence seems to have suffered a recurrence of his right hamstring injury and did not field in Lancashire’s first innings.

The morning’s play was also interrupted for over an hour by rain but Essex took the session’s honours by scoring 61 runs in 12 overs, the majority of them coming from the bat of Snater, who completed his third first-class fifty early in the afternoon.

There was, however, bad news for the visitors when Lawrence was forced to use a runner after pulling up when completing a quick single and it appeared to be a similar injury to that which sidelined him for a month before this game.

Three overs later Lawrence was caught by James Anderson off the bowling of Luke Wood for 120 but that was the only success the Lancashire bowlers enjoyed before Snater was leg before to Hassan Ali for an 82-ball 72 nearly an hour into the second session.

Porter was run out for nought by Josh Bohannon’s brilliant pick up and direct hit from midwicket but Essex’s score looked a creditable effort and seemed even more so an hour or so later.

Lancashire’s innings could barely have got off to a worse start.

Keaton Jennings was lbw for four when coming only half-forward to Cook in the fifth over and Bohannon fell for a duck in similar fashion when playing across the line to Porter in the eighth.

Next ball Steven Croft edged the ball low to Alastair Cook’s left but the former England slipper made no mistake with a two-handed catch.

Three overs later Luke Wells was leg before to Sam Cook for six when playing no shot and Lancashire’s torment was completed when Dane Vilas tried to take the bat away from a ball from Snater but only managed to inside-edge the ball on to his stumps.

That left Lancashire on 24 for five in the 14th over and the only consolation before tea arrived a few balls later when Phil Salt hit Simon Harmer for the first fours of the innings.

Cook currently has figures of two for five from seven overs and Porter two for 19 from six.

Neither bowler is flattered in the slightest.

However, perhaps the pleasantest aspect of the day from a broader perspective was that two thousand schoolchildren watched the morning’s cricket, having been invited to Emirates Old Trafford by the Lancashire Cricket Foundation as part of the annual Schools Open Day.

The young spectators mobbed Matt Parkinson and applauded Hassan Ali, who returned their welcome in typically courteous fashion.