Ryan ten Doeschate again left his mark on Derbyshire to put Essex on top on the opening day of the LV County Championship Division Two game at Derby.
The South African all-rounder scored 88 to take his average against Derbyshire to above 65 in 11 first-class games to put a big dent in their hopes of winning at home in the championship for the first time this season.
He shared a sixth wicket stand of 145 in 28 overs with Mark Pettini who was unbeaten on 70 although Derbyshire were handicapped by injuries to seam bowlers Tony Palladino and Shiv Thakor after tea,
Mark Footitt took 3 for 88 from 28 overs but Essex closed on 360 for 6 which included 87 from the highly promising 18-year-old opener Dan Lawrence.
A far more difficult day looked in prospect for Essex when Derbyshire won the toss on an overcast morning but the bowling lacked the usual discipline and they took only one wicket before lunch.
Lawrence got away with a couple of false shots but generally showed sound judgement and with Nick Browne, batted through the first 75 minutes before Footitt found some late movement to bowl Browne who had scored two centuries in the match at Chesterfield last season.
Derbyshire improved in the afternoon and the game was finely poised at tea before ten Doeschate and Pettini prospered against a weakened attack in the final session.
Ben Cotton struck with the 11th ball after lunch when Tom Westley was lbw for 21 playing half forward and Lawrence should have gone on 49 but Wes Durston put down him down at second slip.
Ravi Bopara looked determined to make up for a lean championship season in which he has scored only one 50 but after he was dropped at first slip by Chesney Hughes on 17, he dabbed at one from Thakor he could have left alone and was caught behind.
Lawrence threw away the chance of a second century for Essex when he skied a drive at Wes Durston’s off-spin and was well caught on the run by Cotton at deep mid off and when Jesse Ryder became Footitt’s 65th championship victim of the season, Essex were 199 for 5.
But both ten Doeschate and Pettini played positively and with Derbyshire two bowlers down, they put Essex in control before Footitt broke through with the second new ball.
There was something of an inevitability about another major contribution from ten Doeschate who has now scored 847 runs, including four hundreds and four 50’s, against Derbyshire.
He reached his latest half-century by pulling Chesney Hughes for six and also hit nine fours before he edged a drive at Footitt but by then he had turned the game firmly towards Essex.