10.38amThe pitch has looked quite flat so it should allow Bairstow and Bell sufficient time in the middle to build up form ahead of the first Ashes Test next week at Trent Bridge.
10.40amIt shall be interesting to see how long Cook leaves them to bat out if they indeed find their form this morning considering the lack of overs Graeme Swann has had this summer.
10.43amSwann has bowled just 90 overs this season in first-class cricket and expect England to want to see a lot more from him this afternoon. As well as the competition for the third seamer between Tim Bresnan and Steven Finn, with the Middlesex bowler edging it following his three wickets in the first innings.
10.45amWe'll also be keeping an eye on how Australia are faring in their warm-up game against Worcestershire at New Road. After day one they're 340-4 and expect to see their bowlers in action later today and of course Nick Compton, who is playing for Worcs, after being dropped by England. Can he make a point to the selectors?
10.48amA lot of eyes will be on Bairstow this morning as he is under pressure to justify his selection over Compton ahead of the Ashes while Bell could do with some time in the middle, as he has struggled for form in the Test arena, after hitting just one half-century in his last five matches.
10.52amBoyd Rankin will continue to bowl for Essex today following injuries to their seam attack yesterday which caused the game's first-class status to be removed. It shall be interesting to see how he goes, bearing in mind the winter tour of Australia. It's fair to say he looks to be in the selectors' minds as the sixth pace bowler in the squad.
10.56amThe players and umpires are making their way out onto the field so we should be underway shortly.
10.59amIt will be Ravi Bopara to open the bowling for Essex today with Bell facing the first delivery.
Eng 222-3Bairstow gets off the mark on the day with a lovely boundary straight down the ground with the fifth ball of the day, as Bell added a single to gully with the aid of mis-field to move his tall to 13*.
Eng 222-3Rankin will share the ball with Bopara this morning.
Eng 228-3EDGED! Bell gets an edge to a Rankin's last ball of the over but it bounces before slip and goes straight to the boundary. Lucky escape for Bell. There were two singles before as he and Bairstow exchanged the striker with two nudges into the leg-side.
Eng 228-3Reece Topley will replace Bopara at the River End, after just one over this morning.
Eng 234-3Another boundary for Bairstow as he flicks a wayward delivery from Topley to the fine leg fence with power as he move to 20*, while Bell picks another single with a controlled shot into the offside. Easy going this morning so far, England's lead is now 369.
Eng 236-3Bell takes advantage of there being no fielder in front of square leg and he picks up another two runs off the bowling of Rankin, moving him to 21*. Apart from that it's an accurate over from the Warwickshire paceman as he doesn't drift from a line just outside off-stump.
Eng 245-3Bairstow finds the boundary as he drills an over-pitched delivery from Topley through cover, it's not quite timed properly but it still has enough to reach the fence. He then mistimes another shot through point and picks up a couple before running a quick single to mid-on. Bell finishes the over with another dab into the leg-side for a couple, bringing up the 50 partnership.
Eng 247-3A good over from Rankin as he tests Bell outside off-stump with a tight line and the batsman has to rein himself in from a few attempted shots. He nabs another single with the final ball of the over with a mis-timed pull shot to move to 24*, with Bairstow 28*.
Eng 247-3A maiden from Topley as he bowls a tight line outside off-stump to Bell, who leaves the ball without playing a stroke, although he does find the fielder at cover with a drive off the last ball of the over.
Eng 247-4Rankin's good bowling this morning finally pays off as he clean bowls Bairstow for 28, as the ball strikes his middle stump. The Yorkshire batsman was playing across the line, looking to hit into the leg-side, but the ball held it's line and took the stump out the ground. That will disappoint Bairstow as he looked in decent knick this morning, that's his last chance to bat one before the real stuff starts next week. Here comes Matt Prior at seven.
Eng 248-4Prior gets off strike with a leg-bye from his first ball and Bell sees out the over from Rankin without scoring. This time his line isn't quite right and Bell leaves the ball with ease outside his off-stump, as the over ends as a maiden.
Eng 252-4Prior gets off the mark with a guided shot down to third man off the bowling of Topley which goes to the boundary. The paceman bowls a decent line coming around the wicket with his left-arm pace but Prior holds himself back and leaves the ball outside off-stump.
Eng 257-4Rankin tests Bell with a good line again first up but he drifts into his legs with his second and third delivery as Bell knocks the ball into the leg-side twice and picks up a couple of twos. He steals the strike for the next over with a single off the final ball of the over.
Eng 257-4Bopara comes back into the attack from the River End replacing Topley.
Eng 260-4Wayward over from Bopara as he struggles to find a consistent line and Bell picks him off with a couple at his leisure. Bell moves to 31*, he needs the runs ahead of the Ashes series, after a disappointing start to 2013.
Eng 265-4Prior shows aggression early on in the over as he flashes a drive which flies through backward point towards the third man boundary and the ball reaches the fence. Rankin tests him with a straight line, which he defends stoutly and picks up a single towards the end of the over to move to 9*.
Eng 269-4Again, Prior is looking to be positive with the bat as he takes the attack to Bopara his drive through cover is picked up on the fence by the sweeper on the boundary but he hurries back for a second run. He picks up another two to end the over. He moves to 13* and England lead by 404.
Eng 273-4Prior is really upping the ante for England now, he powerfully strikes Rankin through extra cover for three runs as the ball stops an inch before the rope, after Bell added another single early in the over, Bell is now 32*. With the lead over 400, you have to wonder when Cook will call time on the innings.
Eng 279-4Prior cracks the second ball of Bopara's over to the boundary through mid-off and diligently picks up a single next ball, Bell adds a single to move the score to 279-4. Prior 21* and Bell is 33*.
Eng 279-4ENGLAND DECLARE! England have declared on 279-4 with a lead of 414, leaving Essex needing 415 to win on the final day. Cook gave his batsman an hour to find some form in the middle ahead of the Ashes but will now turn his attention to his bowlers.
12.04pmA decent morning for England, as they added 62 runs in a hour thanks to some good hitting from Bairstow and Prior. Bairstow will be disappointed that he couldn't bat for longer than his 28 runs allowed before he was bowled by Rankin but he looked in decent touch going into the first Test next week.
12.06pmLikewise Bell looked solid all morning and scored when he needed to as he scored 33*. Prior injected some much needed impetus to move England's lead over the 400 mark and the Three Lions will hope that will get him firing for next week.
12.08pmNews from New Road. Australia have declared on 396-4 in their match against Worcestershire. Steve Smith made a brisk 68* with some solid hitting this morning staking his claim for a place in their team next week, could he bat at number six again? Now it will be Nick Compton's turn to show the England selectors what he can do against the Aussie attack.
12.10pmThe players are making their way out onto the field and we should be back underway shortly.
Ess 6-0Eventful first over from Finn. He sends the first ball down the leg-side for four leg-byes. However, he comes back with a vicious delivery which takes the edge and almost comes back to him with a caught and bowled chance but it drops just short. Rutherford picks up a two with the final ball of the over.
Ess 7-0Graham Onions shares the new ball with Finn and bowls a tight line at Mickelburgh and goes for just a single as the batsman looks to try and work him into the leg-side.
Ess 16-0Mickleburgh cashes in on some loose bowling from Finn as he cuts the ball to the boundary with the second ball of the over. Rutherford is denied a certain four as Bairstow makes an excellent stop in the covers. Mickelburgh ends the over with quick three. Not the best start from Finn, as he looks to hang onto his place in the Test side.
Ess 18-0Tight lines again from Onions, as he appeals for an lbw early in the over againt Mickleburgh which is turned down by the umpire, as the batsman may just have been hit outside the line off off-stump. Mickelburgh and Rutherford exchange the strike towards the end of the over.
Ess 19-0England go up looking for caught behind off Rutherford as Prior claims a catch behind the wicket but the umpire says no, it appears to be the correct decision as the ball hit the thigh pad and no contact with the glove. There's a better line from Finn this over before Rutherford lashes out against the last ball but his pull shot is miscued and lands on the bounce to Bresnan at fine leg.
Ess 28-0Mickleburgh goes on the offensive against Onions, as he over-pitches slightly and he crashes a shot through the covers to the boundary. He looks to play out the over before taking the attack to the Durham paceman again this time hitting the ball through square leg to the fence.
Ess 32-0Finn enjoys a competitive over against Rutherford as he pushes him back with some short pitched bowling, which just misses the head of the New Zealander. He forces five dots before he gets punished for a wide delivery with his final ball of the over, which Rutherford crashes through point, to the boundary.
Ess 42-0Mickleburgh takes the attack to Onions as first he drills a shot off the back foot through extra cover to the boundary, from a short delivery. Onions then compensates by pitching the ball up and this time the batsman hits him straight down the ground to the fence again. Mickelburgh and Rutherford then hit singles as the New Zealander keeps the strike. Mickelburgh is 27* and Rutherford 11* after eight overs.
Ess 43-0Better over from Finn as he manages to keep a tight line and restricts Essex to just a single this over. Mickleburgh thought he'd beaten the field with a cut through point but Bairstow did fantastically well to dive to his left to cut the ball off before it could beat him.
Ess 43-0Graeme Swann comes on for his first over of the second innings as he replaces Onions at the River End.
Ess 49-0Swann's first over costs six runs, as Rutheford goes after a short ball and sweeps it to the leg-side boundary with a flourish. Swann gets his own back as the left-hander takes a big swing at the ball and misses it completely with the last ball of the over.
Ess 55-0Mickleburgh looks in fine touch as he crashes yet another ball to the fence through the covers as Finn overpitches. A couple of singles follow to end the over, as the umpires call lunch. Not the best of starts for England with the ball, this morning.
1.02pmSo it's lunch at Chelmsford and England won't be too pleased with their bowling this morning. The pitch was unresponsive but both Finn and Onions overpitched at times trying to find some life in the pitch and were duly punished by Mickelburgh and Rutherford. Swann could be set for a long ball this afternoon and it is much needed from his perspective.
1.03pmIt's also lunch at New Road where Australia are playing Worcestershire. Worcs are currently 36-0 with Nick Compton making 21* after being dropped by England for this game ahead of the Ashes. Can he make a point to the selectors if he continues in this vain of form?
1.04pmI'm going to take a little break now, but I'll be back for the start of the afternoon session.
1.38pmThe players are back out on the field after lunch and we should be underway shortly. Swann is to resume from the River End.
Ess 58-0Swann resumes and bowls a fantastic over at Rutherford as he beats the beat three times, going past the outside edge with turn and bounce, and somehow doesn't get the wicket of the New Zealand batsman. Essex still get three runs off the over with two singles and a bye.
Ess 64-0Not a great start for Bresnan as his first ball of the day goes to the boundary off the bottom of Rutherford's bat. The left-hander then crashes him through the covers but Root is on the boundary to cut the ball off. Rutherford moves to 25*.
Ess 67-0Aggressive stuff from Swann yet again as he tests Mickleburgh and Rutherford with a tight line. Both hit singles in the over but they are looking far from comfortable again the off spinner who is getting the ball to turn at pace.
Ess 68-0Just a single off Bresnan's second over. Better a line from the Yorkshireman as he tempts Mickleburgh leaving the ball just outside off off-stump but the batsman refuses to take the bait and picks up a single when he strays onto middle stump.
Ess 76-0Swann nearly gets Mickleburgh as the batsman goes back to defend a full ball and gets an inside edge which fortunately for him hits his pads rather than the stumps. Rutherford then takes the attack to Swann as he dispatches him to the boundary with a slog sweep to deep square leg and then follows that up with a sublime cover drive, hitting with the spin, for three.
Ess 80-0Rutherford produces the shot of the day off Bresnan as he punches a delivery through the covers with a gorgeous drive to move to 37*. It's a good over apart from that shot from Bresnan, who manages to keep his line tight, despite the assault from the New Zealander.
Ess 91-0Eventful over as Rutherford charges down the wicket and smacks Swann towards cow corner for six. He didn't get all of the ball as he failed to time it correctly but it had enough to clear the rope. Swann then came back with an lbw shout, which he thought was good, but the umpire said it was going down leg, which looked to be the correct decision. Rutherford is now 45* and Mickelburgh 41*.
Ess 91-0MAIDEN! Stunningly we have our first maiden of the innings bowled by Bresnan in the 19th over. He bowled a tight line at Mickelburgh who couldn't get the ball away.
Ess 91-1Swann gets his first and England's wicket of the innings. He pitched the ball up and the New Zealand batsman tried to sweep the ball like he did two overs ago but he missed the ball completely and it smashed into his stumps. A good innings from the 24-year-old, who looks to have a bright future in the game.
Ess 91-1Owais Shah is the new man at the crease and he almost goes first ball as he plays and misses at Swann's delivery outside off-stump. He sees out the remaining three balls with ease however.
Ess 99-1Mickleburgh is still looking in fine form and he finds the boundary yet again with a cover drive off Bresnan. I knew that maiden wouldn't last. Bresnan follows up with a good bouncer which smacks the head of Mickelburgh and goes over the gloves of Prior for four leg-byes.
Ess 99-2Swann strikes again as he gets the outside edge of Shah this time, after missing out last over, Trott takes a good catch at first slip low to his left to dismiss the former England batsman.
Ess 99-2A maiden from Swann as he ties down new batsman Ravi Bopara at the crease with a tight line just outside of off-stump. His bowling so far will be delighting Cook and the England camp.
Ess 100-2100 up for Essex as Mickleburgh gets a single off the last ball of Bresnan's over to move to 46*. He looks in good touch out there following his 90 in the first innings.
Ess 104-2Mickleburgh gets his second half-century of the game as he cuts Swann to the point boundary. He has batted well this innings and that's just his fourth 50 this season. Swann is testing him with some late spin.
Ess 107-2Bopara's not getting an easy life off his teammates so far here. Cook puts two men on the drive at silly mid-off and silly mid-on. Bresnan bowls accurately outside off stump and bowls five dot balls before he finally gets off the mark with a three through mid-wicket.
Ess 107-2Swann is really in rhythm now and is bowling very well at Bopara and he bowls dot after dot, giving the batsman nothing wide to free his arms and he collects a maiden, his third in nine overs.
Ess 109-2Finn returns to replace Bresnan in the attack. He is right on the money straight away to Bopara, he forces him back in his crease with several short balls before pitching one fuller, which Bopara does well to guide away for a single.
Ess 112-2Some poor fielding by Bresnan allows Bopara to pick up a single after Swann had kept the pressure on the batsman by bowling two dots. Mickleburgh, who has been starved off the strike of late, picks up a two with a nice push into the leg-side.
2.46pmNick Compton is showing the England selectors that he is more than capable of facing the Australian attack as he's just notched a half-century against them at New Road while playing for Worcestershire. They are 88-1 after 29 overs.
Ess 112-2Finn resumes after drinks and keeps Bopara pinned down with fine over of straight bowling, which Bopara is forced to defend. Finn notches his first maiden of the day.
Ess 112-2Swann backs up Finn's effort at the River End, with six dots of his for his fourth maiden of the day. He mixes up his pace well and Mickleburgh can't time the ball to get it away. The fluency of his innings has faded slightly in the last 30 minutes or so.
Ess 120-2Finn bowls an absolute beauty to Bopara and produces the edge but the ball goes between Cook at first slip and Swann at second. Neither of them went for the ball, but it was closest to Swann, so it should have been his catch, but he was motionless. As a result Bopara picks up his first boundary. He follows that up with a lovely drive down the ground to find the fence again. He moves to 13*.
Ess 124-2Mickleburgh hits a fine boundary off the bowling of Swann as he gets outside off-stump and sweeps him behind square leg for four, with perfect timing. However, one ball later Swann thinks he's got his man and claims for a catch behind but the umpire says not out, which appears to be the correct decision.
Ess 128-2Loose over from Finn as he loses a bit of discipline and Bopara picks him off for a couple before rotating the strike to Mickleburgh. He steals the strike back for Swann's over with a single of his own off the last ball of the over.
Ess 128-3Swann strikes and picks up his third wicket as he snags Mickleburgh for 58. He comes around the wicket and the batsman doesn't quite get a hold of his drive through mid-wicket and Cook does well to hold on to a low catch.
Ess 130-3A nice over from Swann including the wicket, as new batsman Mark Pettini gets off the mark immediately, while Bopara continues to knock the ball around with a quick single.
Ess 139-3Two glorious shots from Bopara confirm he well and truly has his eye in. First he cuts a short delivery from Finn past backward point to the boundary while two balls later he rocks back onto his back foot and pulls the delivery over mid-wicket to the fence. Nice stuff from the 28-year-old.
Ess 140-3Just a single for Bopara off the Swann over. Swann really is into a good rhythm and is dropping the ball on a perfect line outside the off-stump, no batsman has looked convincing against him so far.
Ess 144-3Onions replaces Finn in the attack for his second spell. Bopara does well to guide the ball down to the cover boundary for a well run three, before Pettini drops and runs for a quick single with the ball at his feet. Decent start from Onions.
Ess 145-3Just the single off Swann's over again the line is perfect from the off-spinner just outside off-stump. He comes around the wicket Bopara and the batsman comes down the wicket to charge him, but he scuffs his shot and the ball falls just short of Kevin Pietersen at mid-on.
Ess 149-3Wayward over from Onions as he twice strays onto the pads of Pettini twice in the over and the batsman simply knocks the ball onto the leg-side for a couple of twos to move him to 7*.
Ess 152-3A fine over from Swann, he forces a mistake from Pettini as he edges the ball over the top of Bairstow, who's in at short leg. Bopara continues in his good form as nudges the ball around for yet another single.
Ess 154-4Bopara goes and it's a loose shot from him a he drives on the up straight to Bell at extra cover to hand Onions his first wicket of the day. It's a really poor dismissal from Bopara's point of view considering he was set. It probably sums up his career in the longer format to date.
Ess 154-4The new batsman at the crease for Essex Ben Foakes sees out the final three deliveries from Onions, and the umpires call tea.
3.44pmEngland will be a lot happier with their lot after that session. Swann needed to bowl overs and he didn't disappoint with a fine spell of bowling, as he claimed three wickets. That's just what he needs ahead of the Ashes next week.
3.46pmThe England seamers haven't been great although the pitch is offering very little to them. Onions got the wicket of Bopara just before the break, but he hasn't been at his best, neither have Bresnan or Finn, so that is a slight area of concern for England going into the first Test.
4.00pmUpdate from New Road. Worcestershire are 156-2 against Australia as Nick Compton has made 71* at the tea break.
4.01pmThe players are back out after the tea break and play should resume shortly. Swann will resume from the River End.
Ess 156-4Swann returns and again is right on the money with his line and length and Pettini and Foakes get a single each in the over, his 17th of the day.
Ess 156-5Onion strikes and gets his second wicket as Foakes edges a good ball which seamed late away from him to Prior, who took a regulation catch. The new batsman Greg Smith is a substitute for Tom Westley, who broke his finger.
Ess 157-5Just the bye of the over as Onions goes past the outside edge of Smith with the final ball of his over. His rhythm has improved and he finally looks like he's his bowling groove that he displays at Durham on so many occasions.
Ess 164-6Swann gets his fourth wicket of the innings as Pettini is beaten by the spin as he came down the wicket and edged the ball onto his pad and Bairstow was there at silly point to take a simple catch.
Ess 165-6Pettini had hit a lovely boundary off Swann before he fell but the Notts spinner got him in the end. Former Englan bowler Saj Mahmood comes to crease and gets off the mark with a single.
Ess 165-7Onion strikes again as he clean bowls Mahmood with an absolute beauty, which is full and straight and moves away from the former Lancashire man at the last minute and takes out his middle stump. A lovely ball for Onion's third wicket.
Ess 165-8Onions gets another and it's simply wonderful bowling from the Durham man. He bowls full and straight again and the ball hits Craddock on the full, and the umpire raises the finger, as he lasts just four balls. Not sure about that decision, it looked a though it was sliding down leg, but it may have just been clipping leg-stump.
Ess 165-8The new batsman is David Masters, who pulled out of the game, yesterday, rolling substitutes in a cricket game, who knew.
Ess 166-8Swann sends down a maiden to Smith to keep the pressure on Essex. Again he gets a lot of turn and bounce, surely the end can't be far away now.
Ess 171-8Maybe not as Masters shows some pedigree with the bat as he clips a ball from Onions off his stumps to the leg-side boundary. He moves to 5*.
Ess 173-8More spin and bounce from Swann but it doesn't yield an edge for Smith as he goes past the outside edge on two occasions. It's getting towards that time now, where England are just willing for the wickets to fall.
Ess 178-8Boundary to Smith and Onions is not happy with Swann as he allows the ball to go under him from an edge. England's fielding in the slips hasn't been that great this afternoon. Something to improve on next week.
Ess 186ESSEX ALL OUT! WICKET! Masters (14) c Bresnan b Swann
Ess 186Swann strikes to claim his fifth wicket as Masters is caught on the boundary by Bresnan. Tymal Mills won't bat due to injury so that will be that and Essex are all out. Masters had a bit of a dart at Swann as he hit three boundaries but he eventually hauled out going for one big shot too many.
4.46pmSo it's all over, Onions and Swann wrapped up the business really quickly in the evening session as they ran through the tail. England will be delighted to see that the spinner got five wickets and got through some serious overs under his belt before next week.
4.48pmEngland will have concerns over Bairstow who failed to really capitalise on his time in the middle making only 28 before he was bowled by Rankin. He will be under microscope next week at Trent Bridge for sure, considering Nick Compton's 79 against Australia for Worcestershire at New Road today.
4.53pmThe big talking point will be who plays as England's third seamer Bresnan or Finn. Neither really staked their claim here with the ball, but Bresnan well and truly confirmed that he is more than useful at number eight. Food for though for Andy Flower and Cook.
4.58pmThat will do it from me, thanks for joining our live text commentary today. The next time England will be in the action it will be the Ashes, until then goodbye.