|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Cloudfm County Ground (day three):|
|Middlesex 246 & 27-0: Gubbins 16*|
|Essex 542-3 dec: Browne 221, Cook 193, Chopra 100*; Rayner 2-152|
|Essex 8 pts, Middlesex 1 pt|
|Middlesex trail by 269 runs|
A county record opening partnership of 373 between Nick Browne (221) and England’s Alastair Cook (193) saw Essex pile on the runs against Middlesex.
The pair passed Graham Gooch and Paul Prichard’s record of 316, which was set in 1994, as Essex declared on 542-3.
Browne put on 129 for the second wicket with Varun Chopra (100 not out), who hit six sixes from 75 balls to become Essex’s third centurion of the innings.
Middlesex closed on 27-0 in their second innings, trailing by 269 runs.
Leaders Essex are looking for their fifth victory of the Division One campaign following promotion from Division Two last season.
Browne’s last three Championship three-figure scores have all been double hundreds, with the previous two coming in home and away games against Derbyshire in Division Two last season – but he fell 34 short of his career-best, scored at Chelmsford last May.
Cook, who is set to open for England in next week’s first Test against South Africa at Lord’s, currently averages a century every 3.5 Championship innings since 2016.
His sixth ton of the season in all competitions came up from 135 balls and he eventually departed after hitting 26 fours in six and a half hours at the crease.
Ollie Rayner (2-152) got rid of both openers, having Cook caught by Stevie Eskinazi at slip, while Browne was caught by Dawid Malan at cover.
Chopra had the freedom to come in and play his shots and reached his three figures with a six as Essex declared with a first-innings lead of 296.
Essex opening batsman Nick Browne told BBC Radio Essex:
“It is lovely to do that with Cookie. It’s an amazing honour to play with him, let alone have a partnership with him like that.
“He helped me through a lot, and I’d like to think I helped him a little bit as well. It was absolutely outstanding to bat with him for such a long time.
“We didn’t know about the record. We heard at tea that the record in games against Middlesex had been beaten by us. We thought this one couldn’t be too far away, but when the crowd starting clapping we didn’t have a clue.”
Middlesex acting captain Dawid Malan told BBC Radio London:
“It’s just a good batting wicket and we’ve let ourselves down, first and foremost when we were probably 150 runs short of being able to put them under pressure.
“They showed that. Two very good batsmen applied themselves on a good batting wicket. There is no reason why you can’t bat all day but all credit needs to go to the two guys, Cookie is a fantastic player, one of the best who’s ever played for England.
“Our openers showed the mettle at the end there that we pride ourselves in. We’ve been proud of the way we show resilience. We’ve got ourselves out of a lot of games where we’ve been behind the eight-ball.”