07262017

Cook & Browne put on record 373 partnership to punish Middlesex

Alastair Cook and Nick Browne

Alastair Cook and Nick Browne both hit their highest first-class scores of the 2017 season

A county record opening partnership of 373 between Nick Browne (221) and England’s Alastair Cook (193) saw Essex pile on the runs against Middlesex.

The pair passed Graham Gooch and Paul Prichard’s record of 316, which was set in 1994, as Essex declared on 542-3.

Browne put on 129 for the second wicket with Varun Chopra (100 not out), who hit six sixes from 75 balls to become Essex’s third centurion of the innings.

Middlesex closed on 27-0 in their second innings, trailing by 269 runs.

Leaders Essex are looking for their fifth victory of the Division One campaign following promotion from Division Two last season.

Browne’s last three Championship three-figure scores have all been double hundreds, with the previous two coming in home and away games against Derbyshire in Division Two last season – but he fell 34 short of his career-best, scored at Chelmsford last May.

Cook, who is set to open for England in next week’s first Test against South Africa at Lord’s, currently averages a century every 3.5 Championship innings since 2016.

His sixth ton of the season in all competitions came up from 135 balls and he eventually departed after hitting 26 fours in six and a half hours at the crease.

Ollie Rayner (2-152) got rid of both openers, having Cook caught by Stevie Eskinazi at slip, while Browne was caught by Dawid Malan at cover.

Chopra had the freedom to come in and play his shots and reached his three figures with a six as Essex declared with a first-innings lead of 296.

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