Sir Alastair Cook was leading Essex's first-innings response on day three of the Bob Willis Trophy final, defying Somerset throughout the morning session at Lord's.
The Taunton side were bowled out for 301 at the end of the second day's play, with Essex reaching 79 for one at lunch.
Cook was responsible for 46 of them, the former England captain looking ominously well set after coming through a testing opening spell.
Somerset's attack has been in prime form in the competition, having run through their Central Group opponents comfortably – three times bowling teams out for 76 or under on three occasions and conceding a top score of 200 against Worcestershire.
Craig Overton and Josh Davey turned in a strong showing with the new ball and will wonder how they did not make a breakthrough in the first 10 overs. Cook was given a tricky welcome by Overton, swishing uncharacteristically loosely outside off stump on a couple of occasions and edging short of slip twice while still in single figures.
On one occasion Overton bellowed his frustration as Cook diverted just over gully, with his yell echoing around the empty ground. But Cook began to settle as soon as the bowlers began drifting towards his pads and opening up his scoring areas between square and fine-leg.
Browne lasted 14 overs but never got away, eking out eight in 47 balls before Lewis Gregory had him caught at slip immediately after going round the wicket.
Cook grew in authority with a strong pull off Overton and summoned a pair of elegant cover drives off Gregory to take his side past 50.
He progressed to 46 not out at the interval, sharing a stand of 52 with captain Tom Westley who worked his way to 20no.