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Page last updated at 17:55 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 18:55 UK

Prodigy Mickleburgh drives Essex

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP Division Two, Chelmsford:
Essex 333-8 v Warwickshire (stumps, day one)

Teenage prodigy Jaik Mickleburgh hit a sparkling 72 as Essex reached 333-8 eight on the opening day of their vital match at home to Warwickshire.

With the two teams battling for one promotion spot, the 18-year-old drove and pulled with such authority that his runs arrived from just 79 deliveries.

All his runs came during a partnership of 110 in 18 overs with Ravi Bopara, who was content to play a passive role.

At one point he was set to be Essex's youngest Championship century-maker.

But, having hit 60 in his only other Championship innings, he was undone by a googly from Ian Salisbury and trapped lbw.

Norfolk-raised Mickleburgh had arrived to do battle after Rikki Clarke's first delivery as a Warwickshire player left Essex in trouble on 59-3.

Clarke, playing for his third county in the past 12 months, made his impact with one of the worst deliveries of the day, a long hop well wide of the off stump which Mark Pettini managed to edge to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose.

After Mickleburgh's departure, Bopara followed him back to the pavilion in the next over when Clarke persuaded the Young Cricketer of the Year to cut to backward point.

A relieved Jim Troughton pocketed the catch after dropping Bopara in the same position when the batsman was still runless.

Those losses left Essex 169-5 but James Foster (42) and Ryan ten Doeschate (72) reclaimed the initiative with a stand of 70.

By the close, Essex were closing on a fourth batting point, which they would regard as a minimum ambition after winning the toss and starting this penultimate round of matches 17 points behind Warwickshire.

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