Report: Essex v Warwickshire, LV= Insurance County Championship
Danny Briggs and Will Rhodes took the sting out the final day at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford as the conditions won out in Essex’s LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Warwickshire.
Nightwatchman Briggs and captain Rhodes cancelled out Warwickshire’s first-innings deficit inside 14 overs to all but kill off the home side’s hopes of stealing a win.
Warwickshire reached 66 for one before rain either side of lunch saw fists bumped at 4:30pm on a draw.
The result keeps Group One incredibly tight, which could mean Essex’s 12 points to Warwickshire’s 11 could be valuable in deciding who progresses from the group.
Warwickshire began the day with a deficit of 51, having blocked out one over on the third day.
Briggs and Rhodes appeared in no danger with the nip and zip of the opening two days failing to materialise for Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and Peter Siddle, while also failing to assist spinner Simon Harmer.
It took 81 balls to bring up the 50 partnership, with Briggs the more fluent of the two, contributing 31 runs.
Despite traditionally batting in the lower order, Briggs is a solid batsman with a century and two fifties in his first-class career.
He didn’t look out of place at the top of the order with a tasty straight drive off Porter, a cut off Siddle and a flowing straight drive off Harmer.
The former Hampshire and Sussex spinner eventually departed after lunch when a leading edge off Cook looped to Dan Lawrence at extra cover.
For Harmer, who bowled 18 overs across both innings, it was his first wicketless Championship appearance having taken at least a scalp in each of his previous 47 matches.
Play halted at 12:17pm and despite attempts to get back on the game was finally put out of its misery by Ian Gould and Ben Debenham in the evening gloom.
Sir Alastair Cook and Ryan ten Doeschate used their vast experience with half-centuries as Essex claimed a first-innings lead in their LV= Insurance County Championship fixture against Warwickshire.
Cook and ten Doeschate have a combined age of 76, have scored 35,820 runs in 516 first-class matches and used all that knowhow on a tricky pitch which nipped around.
Former England captain Cook scored 57, the 185th of glittering career, and on his 200th first-class appearance ten Doeschate totted up 56.
Liam Norwell and Will Rhodes both snared three wickets apiece as Essex were bowled out for 217, a lead of 51, before Danny Briggs blocked out one over for no runs.
The morning session was a frustrating muddle of bad light and a spot of drizzle – with a delayed start and a hokey-cokey when everyone took their places to resume before the sun dipped behind a cloud.
There was enough time before lunch for Tom Westley to bring up his 500th run of the season, get dropped at square leg and then edge Olly Hannon-Dalby behind.
The start of the afternoon was also delayed, but once it commenced the game started to move along at a decent pace.
Dan Lawrence, on the back of a Test call-up for the upcoming New Zealand series, was put down by international team-mate Dom Sibley at square leg before he had his off stump uprooted by a Liam Norwell yorker.
Cook was the main attraction and anchor to the innings as he mixed his typically gritty blocking with a five aesthetically pleasing cover drives.
He passed 50 for the third time this season in 87 balls but was undone by the introduction of Will Rhodes.
The medium pacer, who took a five-for on his previous appearance at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford, dangled a half-volley outside Cook’s off stump with his second delivery to produce an edge.
Rhodes then had Paul Walter leg before and Adam Wheater caught and bowled when skying to have three wickets in his first four overs.
ten Doeschate then rebuilt with a 44-run stand with Simon Harmer, the Dutch international contributing 38 in a busy fashion while moving to his half-century with a flash through the slips.
He gloved Norwell behind and Peter Siddle pushed to second slip and while Essex picked up a batting point by passing 200, Sam Cook was yorked by Briggs and Jamie Porter nicked off to end the innings.
Peter Siddle returned his best bowling figures for Essex but rain prevented their LV= Insurance County Championship fixture with Warwickshire from progressing at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford.
Former Australia international Siddle returned figures of six for 38 – his best figures since 2015.
He claimed two wickets on the third day as Warwickshire, despite Tim Bresnan reaching 50, lost their final three wickets in 16 morning balls to be bowled out for 166.
In reply, Liam Norwell had Nick Browne caught behind to leave Essex 16 for one before the heavy winds brought rain and an end to the day at 12:15pm.
The day began, 15 minutes late, with Bresnan ticking his overnight 47 to his 43rd first-class half-century.
But Siddle ripped through the tail with ruthless efficiency at the other end with two wickets in successive deliveries.
Danny Briggs carved to Browne at point to give Siddle his sixth five-for for Essex, with his last also coming against Warwickshire.
He then dislodged Norwell’s off-stump with the next ball, with Oliver Hannon-Dalby blocking out the hat-trick ball.
Sam Cook produced a snorter to have Bresnan caught at first slip as Warwickshire were bowled out.
Only 7.3 overs were bowled at Essex but there was enough time for a gorgeous Alastair Cook cover drive, the heavy bails to be called for in the face of gale-force wind, and for Browne to nick behind a Norwell beauty.
Rain, in various levels of strength, was a constant with the only entertainment of note the groundsmen attempting to sort out the tarpaulin covers in the face of strong gusts.
Peter Siddle marked his and 200 spectators’ return to the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford with four LV= Insurance County Championship wickets.
Australian fast bowler Siddle took four for 36 in a masterful display on his first appearance at the ground since July 2019, having only featured in away games since his return to Essex this season.
Dom Sibley, who was called up to the England Test squad ahead of the New Zealand series, was also making his comeback after a month out for a fractured finger and scored a dogged 43.
A wet evening disappointed the crowd on their first outing since restrictions were lifted, although a twilight 2.4 overs ticked the score to 159 for seven – with Tim Bresnan well set on 47 not out.
Will Rhodes had won the toss and elected to bat first, on a pitch which was tinged green and would go on to prove offered plenty of movement for the seam and swing bowlers.
Sibley looked to be making up for time lost in recovery by flicking his first delivery to the boundary but returned to his blocking best by following it up with 10 dot balls – something that would be a regular occurrence during his vigil.
Siddle, who had been rested for the innings victory over Derbyshire, entered the attack in the 11th over and struck with just his third delivery.
The veteran squared up Rhodes and found a thick edge to Nick Browne at fourth slip, before Rob Yates’ middle stump went splat in the following over.
Jamie Porter, on the back of season-best figures of three for 41, took the edge of an off-balance Pieter Malan – as Tom Westley pilfered a simple catch at third slip.
Siddle was awarded his county cap and his winner’s medal from the 2019 Championship success at lunch and immediately said thank you to the club with the lbw scalp of Sam Hain.
Meanwhile, Sibley had been tested thoroughly by Siddle, Porter and Sam Cook with a ball jagging about – with at least 14 play and misses sitting alongside his solid defence.
He departed, having struck a rare seven thanks to an Adam Wheater overthrow, when he nicked Cook to second slip to leave Warwickshire 76 for five.
But a 56-run stand between Bresnan and Michael Burgess lifted the visitors, the latter scoring 35 including a straight slog sweep six off Harmer.
But Siddle returned to castle Burgess, who was shouldering his arms, and Cook had Olly Stone superbly caught by Harmer.
The players returned to the middle after tea but after standing around for a few moments were turned around by the umpires, with bad light and subsequently rain pausing the game, before a short burst added another nine runs before bad light returned.
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