Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott both hit confidence boosting half-centuries ahead of next week's first Ashes Test as England remained in command against Essex in Chelmsford.

Joe Root and Cook shared an opening partnership of 76 before the young Yorkshireman perished to Essex spinner Tom Craddock having scored 26 on his final chance to lay claim to a spot at the top of the order.

Trott and Cook then proceeded to make light work of the Essex bowlers - who had been significantly weakened by the withdrawals of David Masters and Tymal Mills - before England requested the encounter be made more competitive.

Exciting young Essex left-armer Reece Topley was drafted into the side to give his county with more teeth, while England also provided the hosts with the talents of Boyd Rankin in the hope of offering more valuable pre-Ashes practice.

These substitutions meant the match was forced to relinquish its first-class status, but ensured the England batsman faced a sterner test than the part-timers who had filled the void left by Masters and Mills.

Neither Topley or Rankin, however, were able to dislodge Cook (82) or Trott (79) with both retiring out, while Kevin Pietersen allowed Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow to move up the England order to gain some time at the crease.

Pietersen hit 49 in the England first innings, while Bell and Bairstow managed only 36 between them, and both batsman were still in the middle when play drew to a close with the score 217-3.

Topics:
Joe Root
Kevin Pietersen
England cricket
Cricket
Jonathan Trott