LV= County Championship Division One, Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford (day two)
Essex 304: Browne 59, A Cook 58; De Caires 8-106 & 104-1: A Cook 44*
Middlesex 179: Higgins 44; Porter 6-34, Cook 3-43
Essex (5 pts) lead Middlesex (3 pts) by 229 runs
Essex bowler Jamie Porter sliced through the Middlesex batting to pass fifty first-class wickets for the sixth season in his career, the first since 2019, on day two of the County Championship match at Chelmsford.
The 30-year-old seamer, bowling with renewed vigour this summer after struggling with injuries and consequent loss of form in recent years, finished with 6-34, and 53 wickets for the campaign, as Middlesex were bowled out for 179.
That left the relegation-threatened visitors trailing by 125 runs on first innings, which was extended to 229 by close of day two with Alastair Cook's unbeaten 44 leading Essex to 104-1.
Off-spinner Josh de Caires had wrapped up the Essex first innings with his eighth ball of the morning to record career-best figures of 8-106. Essex added just one run to their overnight total, reaching 304, before Sam Cook edged to slip.
That was the last wicket to fall to spin until the 51st over of Middlesex's innings - when Simon Harmer tempted Toby Roland-Jones to try and hit him out of the ground - by which time the Essex seamers had shared the first eight wickets on a lively, baked pitch. Sam Cook chipped in with three of his own for 43.
However, with Division One leaders Surrey completing their innings victory over Warwickshire earlier in the day, it left Essex 34 points adrift in second place, albeit with the result of this game to be added on.
Porter struck in only his second over, a double-wicket maiden, removing Mark Stoneman to a loose drive to cover point followed by Joe Cracknell to a catch low down at second slip. Wicket number 50 arrived two overs later when Sam Robson's off stump was sent cartwheeling as he played down the wrong line.
Sam Cook then had Jack Davies lbw and Middlesex were 25-4 in the eighth over.
Middlesex shrank into survival mode for a spell as Harmer and Umesh Yadav had John Simpson and Max Holden playing and missing at contrasting pace. The pair went 34 balls without scoring, and Harmer sent down 29 without conceding a run before Simpson swept him to the boundary.
It was not until Porter returned for a second spell that the fifth-wicket pair were parted after 16.3 overs, 24 runs and nearly an hour, Simpson remaining anchored on his crease when rapped on the pad.
Holden put on 41 inside 10 overs with Ryan Higgins either side of lunch until he got a leading edge that popped up back into Porter's hands.
Luke Hollman swept Harmer for six in a 38-run stand with Higgins before he became the second lbw victim for Sam Cook. He had a third wicket when Higgins was beaten for pace to end his swashbuckling 44 from 54 balls.
De Caires and captain Roland-Jones steered Middlesex past the follow-on mark, but the latter departed when ending the sequence of seamers' wickets by sweeping Harmer into the hands of deep mid-wicket.
Porter had Ethan Bamber lbw to leave De Caires unbeaten on 29, including six fours.
De Caires, who sent down 39 overs first time round, opened from the River End for a dozen overs without finding the same assistance from the wicket. Nick Browne and Alastair Cook were untroubled while putting on 64 for the first wicket before Browne (35) gloved behind one that lifted from Roland-Jones.
Report supplied by ECB Reporters' Network.