Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes admitted that Essex had won "a crucial toss" as his side were bowled out for 84 on a green pitch on the opening day of the LV County Championship match at Chelmsford.

Joe Leach top scored with 39 for Worcestershire as Jesse Ryder (5-24) made effective use of the new ball.

Then, as the conditions eased and the wicket dried out, an unbeaten century from Nick Browne steered Essex to 198-3 by the close.

Rhodes told BBC Hereford-Worcester's Trevor Owens: "It was a crucial toss to win. That wicket was green and juicy and the ball zipped around quite a lot in that first session.

"Was it a 10 wicket session? If things didn't go your way, you could easily lose 10 wickets in a session and that is what happened.

"They've got a reasonable attack and maximised the conditions but it was a bit disappointing Jesse Ryder bowled us out like he did.

"I know he's had a good season so far but he's a decent second change Test bowler and, sadly for us, he was all over us.

"Don't get me wrong, you've still got to do the job and that's what they certainly did. They took the catches and got their dismissals and they bowled well.

"But it was chalk and cheese as the wicket dried out.

"It is a little bit disappointing and maybe needs addressing as well because there is five points up for grabs for batting bonus points and you need to get 400 to get there.

"When you come up against conditions like that, when it is so crucial to win the toss, you aren't going to get 400 batting first on that (wicket) so straight away you are at a disadvantage."

When asked about wickets tumbling across the country in the pre-lunch session, Rhodes said: "I suppose maybe if the wickets weren't as green in September, then it wouldn't be as devastating.

"If the whole idea of a good game of cricket is to get 400, that's why you get five batting points, maybe the wickets need to go back to how they used to be which was very white with lots of grass on them – but white grass and they carried beautifully."

Leach hit five boundaries but Moeen Ali (12) was the only other player to reach double figures.

Rhodes said: "Joe counter-attacked and it was good for him to get roughly half our score but we needed someone else to do that.

"A couple of the other guys tried to counter-attack and it didn't work but he took his chance and managed to get a few boundaries away.

"A few of them couldn't do too much about how they got out and a few of them were trying to counter-attack so it looks a bit like shoddy dismissals.

"But those are the type of things that happen when you are under the cosh, and conditions are difficult, the opposition are going well, and the ball is zipping around, those sort of things happen.

"It was a very difficult two hours and you've got to maybe question whether that has ruined a game of cricket.

"It certainly has for us to a certain extent. It's a long haul back and we are going to fight and hopefully we will get right back in the game.

"But certainly a toss of a coin has made a massive difference, possibly the outcome of the game."

Rhodes added: "To give the left hander Browne some credit, I thought he played really well. He played straight, good balance, he didn't get hit on the pad much.

"But I think it was also a reflection of how the wicket had dried out because the ball wasn't going past the bat like when we were batting. The conditions changed.

"There was a bit of turn but there would be because the ends have been shaved and it's a two tone pitch out there. It's green in the middle and shaved ends.

"It will definitely turn as we go along and day three, if we get there, then it will be turning a lot."

Rhodes is hoping the same pre-lunch conditions will confront the Essex batsman when they resume this morning.

He said: "Our plan to try and get back in the game and we are hoping in the morning it will be zipping around like this morning even though the wicket is a day older.

"We've got seven wickets to get and there may be a chance then of the wicket settling again when we bat and that's the time we need to go really big."