LV County Championship - Division Two
Essex 282 (R N ten Doeschate 94 no, M L Pettini 59, J S Foster 55, Kabir Ali 6-83, Imran Arif 4-84) & 322-8 dec (J S Foster 111 no) v Worcestershire 258 (B F Smith 74, G J Batty 60) & 349-4 (D K H Mitchell 102, B F Smith 82, G A Hick 78 no, S C Moore 50)
Worcestershire (19pts) beat Essex (5pts) by 6 wkts
Daryl Mitchell's century ensured Worcestershire remain on course for a swift return to Division One as they completed a six-wicket win over Essex at Colchester.
Mitchell struck 102 as the visitors made light work of scoring the 347 needed for victory, after their hosts had declared on their overnight 322-8.
The evergreen Graeme Hick took over the mantle when Mitchell was eventually dismissed with an unbeaten 78 from 84 deliveries.
Stephen Moore and Ben Smith also struck half-centuries against an attack that sorely missed the guile of leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, a victim of a broken finger two-days ago.
Moore struck seven fours and a six in completing a half-century from 88 balls but without addition was caught at short-leg by Varun Chopra from the last ball before lunch off James Middlebrook.
That wicket fell with a total on 102, and the same combination removed Vikram Solanki immediately afterwards - the Worcestershire captain bagging a pair.
But any hopes that Essex might have entertained of making further rapid inroads were to be dashed by Mitchell and a fine 82 from Smith.
Worcestershire are now virtually assured of one of the top two places needed to reach the top flight.
But Essex had to settle for just five points from a defeat which almost certainly means them playing in the Second Division again next year.
James Foster's first County Championship century of the summer helped Essex build a lead of 346 over Division Two leaders Worcestershire.
He followed up his 55 on the opening day with an unbeaten 111, as Essex closed on 322 for eight in their second innings to set up the prospect of an exciting duel on the final day.
Foster reached his century from 183 deliveries with the help of seven fours and one six, many of his runs coming during a fifth wicket partnership of 96 with Ryan ten Doeschate, who made 46 before becoming one of Imran Arif's three victims.
Skipper Mark Pettini also fell four short of his half-century before a leading edge finished up in the hands of gully.
Foster caught the eye with some fluent drives as he anchored the Essex innings on a day when a morning downpour delayed the start of play by half-an-hour.
Worcestershire's attack was blunted by the absence of Matt Mason who suffered a shoulder injury after sending down just one over on the first day, while Kabir Ali, who took six for 83 in the home side's first innings, did not bowl in the final session because of a sore back.
Essex's promotion hopes have been dealt a huge blow after Danish Kaneria broke his spinning finger in the Division Two match against Worcestershire.
Kaneria will require surgery to repair the damage, meaning he could miss the remainder of the season.
Kaneria suffered the fracture when he failed to hold on to a fierce drive by Ben Smith in his fifth over and after he had claimed the wicket of Daryl
Mitchell with his first delivery.
On a day when a slow pitch and outfield made run gathering far from easy Worcestershire narrowly failed to establish a first-innings lead.
Replying to a total of 282, the visitors were bowled out for 258, with Smith (74) and Gareth Batty (60) their main contributors.
By the close the home side had scored 10 without loss in their second innings. The day had started with Essex adding a further 13 runs after resuming on 269-9.
The final wicket, that of Kaneria, was claimed by fast bowler Kabir Ali - who finished with 6-83. Ryan ten Doeschate was left unbeaten on 94.
Essex fought back after an early assault by Kabir Ali to end day one of their County Championship Division Two match against leaders Worcestershire on 269-9.
The fast bowler disposed of Jason Gallian, Varun Chopra and Grant Flower to leave the home side struggling on 24-3 in the 11th over.
Gallian and Chopra were bowled while Flower, the hero in Essex's Friends Provident Trophy triumph over Kent at Lord's on Saturday, departed lbw second ball.
A fourth-wicket parnership of 114 between captain Mark Pettini and James Foster then revived Essex's fortunes.
But Worcestershire were to seize the initiative again when Pettini (59) and Foster (55) were dismissed in successive deliveries.
The latter was Kabir's fourth wicket while Imran Arif claimed Pettini before quickly removing James Middlebrook, Graham Napier and Chris Wright.
But Essex were brought right back into the game with a belligerent unbeaten innings of 87 from Ryan ten Doeschate.
Kabir, the country's leading wicket-taker, picked up his 57th Championship victim of the campaign when he had David Masters caught at first slip by Ben Smith.
He ended the day with figures of 5-77 from 21 overs, his fourth haul of five or more wickets in an innings.
Arif claimed 4-77 runs in 24 overs on a day where play did not start until after lunch because of rain.
However, the visitors did suffer the loss of fast bowler Matt Mason, who left the field with a shoulder injury and is not expected to bowl again in the match.