Worcestershire produced a superb performance with the ball to dismiss champions Essex for 177 on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship Division One clash at Blackfinch New Road.

Paceman Josh Tongue produced a mid afternoon spell of top quality to rip through the Essex middle order as he ended with 4-45 from 15 overs.

The Academy product dismissed Dan Lawrence, Ryan ten Doeschate and Ravi Bopara in the space of 15 balls.

He then added the wicket of Jamie Porter for good measure as Essex, who opted to bat, were bowled out on the verge of tea.

But it was a disciplined show from all the County’s four seamers with skipper Joe Leach (2-37), Steve Magoffin (1-38) and Ed Barnard (3-49) also impressing in keeping the visitors batsmen on a tight leash.

It was the fourth time in five games that Worcestershire have secured maximum bowling points.

Worcestershire’s opening batsmen Brett D’Oliveira and Daryl Mitchell then did an excellent job in reaching 47-0 before bad light intervened for the second time.

Tongue picked up 47 Championship wickets in his first full season last summer and was part of the England Lions training camp in Australia this winter.

He gave another demonstration of his potential by bowling Lawrence (20), trapping Ten Doeschate (1) lbw and then seeing Daryl Mitchell hold onto a fine low catch at second slip to account for Ravi Bopara (7) during a deadly spell.

But it was Magoffin who made the first breakthrough when Varun Chopra (10) drove at at the former Sussex paceman and sliced a catch to Barnard at gulley.

Chopra had returned to the side in place of Nick Browne who suffered a broken finger in the New Road nets yesterday.

Tom Westley (15), who had come into the game on the back of three successive ducks, played down the wrong line to Barnard and was bowled.

Alastair Cook survived an early run out scare but played with typical composure in reaching 34 not out by lunch.

But the England opener added only three more – to the relief of Worcestershire spinner Ben Twohig.

He dropped a low chance offered by Cook at first slip off Leach but the very next ball held onto another nick at waist height.

After Tongue’s fiery burst, Barnard struck twice in three overs with keeper James Foster (16) leg before and Mitchell holding onto a Simon

Harmer nick on 22 which bounced up to him at second slip off the knee of keeper Ben Cox standing up.

Tongue returned to have Porter (6) caught behind before Leach bowled Siddle for a second top score of 29.