Joe Clarke is closing in on his fourth Specsavers County Championship century of the season after leading a fightback during the final session on day two of the clash with Essex at Chelmsford.

The England Lions batsman will start again tomorrow morning on 74 not out with Worcestershire ending on 140-4.

He has so far struck 11 fours in his 114 ball knock and has overtaken Daryl Mitchell (825) as the County’s leading Championship run-scorer this summer.

Clarke showed his class in the battle with Lions team-mate and Essex’s chief threat in Jamie Porter.

He straight drove him for two fours in one over and played some delightful strokes in a return to form after a series of low scores in the Championship.

But Worcestershire still face an uphill task after Essex declared their first innings on 474-7 – a lead of 380.

Essex resumed on 252-5 with Worcestershire searching for early wickets this morning but they spilled three chances.

Ravi Bopara on 45 was dropped at deep square leg by Alex Milton off Dillon Pennington and had another life 11 runs later with skipper Daryl Mitchell spilling the chance at second slip off Wayne Parnell.

In between Adam Wheater on 58 was put down in the gulley region by Tom Fell – also off Parnell.

It was Ed Barnard who made the first breakthrough of the day as he bowled Wheater for 66 after he had added 117 in 31 overs with Bopara.

It was Barnard’s 47th Championship wicket of the campaign which equalled last summer’s tally in Division Two.

Simon Harmer then joined Bopara for a partnership of 134 in 34 overs before he swung across against spinner Ben Twohig and was bowled for 57.

When Essex declared, Bopara was left undefeated on 133 from 271 deliveries with one six and 13 fours.

Barnard finished with figures of 24-8-63-3 and the other wicket-takers were Pennington (1-57), Josh Tongue (1-94), Parnell (1-95) and Twohig (1-107).

Worcestershire lost early wickets when they began their second innings.
Fell (1) lost his middle stump to Porter and Mitchell (0) was lbw to a delivery from the same bowler which kept low.

It became 44-3 when Ollie Westbury (8) tried to work Matt Coles to leg and was lbw.

Clarke was joined by Milton and the pair figured in Worcestershire’s highest stand to date in the game in adding 94 for the fourth wicket.

Milton made 38 off 62 balls with five fours but shortly before the close he looked to work Harmer on the leg side and was given out lbw.