Report: Essex v Warwickshire, County Championship
Warwickshire fell to just their second defeat of the season, as Essex came on top with a nine-wicket victory at Chelmsford.
The South African off-spinner had played a key part in dismissing Warwickshire for 158 in the first innings with his 32nd five-wicket haul for the county, and he added No33 second time around. He bowled unchanged from the River End throughout the 94 overs of Warwickshire’s second innings for match figures of 10-230. He now has 36 wickets this season.
However, it was not all plain sailing for Harmer and his team-mates. That Essex did not have the win wrapped up much earlier was down to two lower-order half-century stands, both involving Yorkshire loanee Dom Bess (63)
He shared 82 runs from 75 balls with Dan Mousley (61) for the seventh wicket, and 64 runs for the ninth with Jake Lintott, whose T20-esque hitting garnered him a career-best 78.
The three of them helped take Warwickshire past and then beyond the total needed to make Essex bat for a second time. The Bears were eventually all out for 381, leaving Essex requiring 83 from a minimum of 122 overs.
In the end they needed just 15 of them as Sir Alastair Cook (23) and Tom Westley (12) saw them over the line under leaden Chelmsford skies, reaching the target with four byes. However, en route they lost the aggressive Feroze Khushi who hit two sixes and five fours in a 46-ball 40 before chipping up to bat-pad off the ubiquitous Bess.
The back-to-back home wins provided ample amends for Essex’s only defeat in the LV= Insurance County Championship this season in the corresponding fixture at Edgbaston last month.
With 299 the target to make Essex bat again, Rob Yates and Will Rhodes, the not-out overnight pair, looked as if they were going to dig in until Christmas. They knocked off 31 in the first 55 minutes of the third day.
However, the early tension in the home camp was eased when Jamie Porter brought one in from outside off-stump to Rhodes and Will Buttleman took the catch down legside. Rhodes batted for 118 balls for his 46.
Five overs later, Yates became Harmer’s 400th first-class wicket for Essex when the left-hander leaned forward tentatively and fell to another catch behind.
Warwickshire sent in Ed Barnard to break up the left-handed sequence at the top of the order. He did not last long, dollying a leading edge off Doug Bracewell to mid-off.
Jacob Bethell had looked composed, driving the majority of his seven fours through the covers, but he departed to a bat-pad catch off Matt Critchley for 36. Three balls on, the leg-spinner who has gained a reputation this season as a ‘golden arm’, also accounted for Michael Burgess, caught by a diving Cook at slip.
The 21-year-old Mousley reached his fourth Championship fifty of the season during a Harmer over from which he plundered 18 runs.
However, as so often, Harmer had his revenge when Mousley charged down the wicket in an attempt to land a fourth maximum and was stumped by several country miles. His disgust with himself was plain to see.
Hassan Ali cracked Critchley for a six but his was a short stay as he picked out Khushi at deep midwicket to give Harmer his fourth wicket of the innings.
Eight down, Warwickshire were then still 30 runs away from returning Essex to the crease, but Bess reached a well-deserved fifty just before that breakthrough point was reached in the 83rd over. He departed in an eventful over from Porter in which he hooked a six, was dealt a painful blow in the solar plexus and nicked behind.
Lintott’s maiden first-class fifty came at a run-a-ball and had Essex struggling to defend the boundary, His free-wheeling innings of 14 fours and two sixes was ended when Khushi held on in the deep to provide Harmer with another match-ball for his burgeoning collection.
Warwickshire First Team Coach Mark Robinson said: “Yes, we do take some comfort from today’s performance. I think it has probably been a game too far for us a little bit in terms of the travel, the schedule, the heat, losing the toss, the wicket. We were disappointed yesterday to get all out for 158. We want to show our skill and today I think we did.
“What we did today was some brilliant learning for our three young batters – Dan Mousley, Jacob Bethell and Rob Yates – to play on a wicket like that against the best spinner in the country. That’s great experience and they will get a lot from that.
“And Dom Bess and Jake Lintott at the end, yes. We thought Essex would tire at the end and that’s the beauty of trying to extent the game as long as you can because it can give you a chance. But we had too much to catch up from that first innings.
“Every other game we’ve played we’ve dominated and it’s the first time we’ve been soundly beaten. It feels like we’ve played Lawrence, Westley and Harmer in this game because it’s Harmer one end all the way through and it was that large partnership between those two [Westley and Lawrence], too.
“We’ve got a few knocks, but we’re not the only team in that position. But it is brutal. This is a game when we could ideally have done with a bit more prep time. But we’ll put it down to experience and rally. Hopefully we’ll have some of them back for the next Championship game because of the moment it looks like Emergency Ward 10.”
Warwickshire will look to bounce back on the third day as Simon Harmer’s mesmeric off-spin gave the hosts the advantage at Chelmsford.
Harmer notched up his 32nd five-wicket haul in seven summers at Essex as Warwickshire were forced to follow-on 299 runs in arrears on first innings. Having already taken five for 65, Harmer added another wicket in the 24 overs of Warwickshire’s second innings in the early evening sunshine, taking his season’s tally to 32.
The South African spinner bowled 33 overs from the River End during the day broken only by three interval breaks. He was backed up by seamer Jamie Porter, who took three front-line wickets as Warwickshire were dismissed for 158.
Essex head into the third day of the LV= Insurance County Championship match needing nine wickets to leapfrog their second-placed opponents in the Division One table. The visitors closed on 74-1 after an unbroken second-wicket stand of 66 between Rob Yates and Will Rhodes.
Essex had been forced to reshuffle their line-up overnight after Dan Lawrence, who had tops-scored with 152 of their first-innings 457, was summoned to Lord’s in preparation for Wednesday’s second Ashes Test. Nick Browne had already been named as the nominated replacement and duly took his place in his regular close-catching position.
Warwickshire’s first knock on a cooler, overcast day lasted 50 overs; the die was cast when they lost two wickets inside the first 24 deliveries. Yates was taken low down at second slip by Harmer diving forward to give Porter his first, and Alex Davies followed when he withdrew his bat to one that swung in from Sam Cook.
Jacob Bethell joined Rhodes in a rearguard third-wicket stand of 67 runs in 21 overs that stemmed the tide for a while. It was a partnership that was peppered with some pugnacious hitting from Bethell, who hit eight fours in his 64-ball 37, including three in succession off Doug Bracewell.
However, the 19-year-old left-hander stepped back to give himself room to cut Harmer and only managed to edge to Will Buttleman.
The wicketkeeper took two further catches in the space of four balls from Porter to reduce Warwickshire to 107 for five. The seamer got one to leave Dan Mousley before Rhodes played down the wrong line to depart for 43.
The collapse continued three balls after Michael Burgess had lofted Harmer for six over long leg. Burgess thrust forward his front leg rather extravagantly but was deceived by the equally extravagant turn and was bowled. Dom Bess was similarly undone by Harmer, turning the ball into leg slip’s lap.
Harmer’s fourth wicket came with the last ball before tea when Hassan Ali popped up a catch to Browne at bat-pad. Bracewell joined the party when he induced an edge from Jake Lintott’s bat to give Buttleman a fourth catch in the innings before Harmer had Chris Rushworth chipping up to mid-on to complete the innings. Ed Barnard watched six of the wickets fall from the other end and remained not out 23 from 47 balls.
Kookaburra ball or not, Essex threw it to Harmer at the start of Warwickshire’s second innings and he continued where he left off. Eleven balls into his spell he had Davies caught by Browne high above his helmeted head.
Much, much earlier, Essex chalked up a fifth batting point with two balls of the allotted 110 overs to spare when Sam Cook smashed the delivery back past Jake Lintott for the four to take them to 450.
That Essex reached maximum points for the second time this season was due to some lusty hitting by Bracewell and Buttleman in a seventh-wicket stand of 46 in 10 overs that was only ended when the New Zealander was trapped lbw by Rushworth.
Once the morning’s target was achieved, Buttleman was caught for a spritely 43 at back-stop when mis-hooking Hassan Ali. Lintott wrapped up the innings by bowling Cook to finish with figures of 3-68.
Warwickshire First Team Coach Mark Robinson said: “There’s always hope. Look, we didn’t particularly bat well. We’ve got to dig deep and try and take the game as deep as we can.
“We’ve had 300 overs on the bounce away nonstop, then we have the hottest day ever yesterday, it’s going to take some physical fatigue, and mental fatigue. And then there’s a wicket that suits Simon Harmer. There are some mitigating circumstances. but that’s the game and we’ve got to be better than that and we’ll try again tomorrow.
“Some of the young players will learn from it. Beth [Jake Bethell] found it tough early doors but actually settled really nicely against Harmer, and against one of the best seam attacks. He just missed a four-ball basically. But whatever happens in this second innings he will be better for the experience.
“Because of the Edgbaston Test Match we were loaded with a lot of home games at the beginning and we’ve been on the road since Trent Bridge, travelling and playing. But that’s the game and we spoke about having that mental resilience, mind over matter.
“But as you say we’re missing a few key players as well, but we’re still in this match. We’ll dig deep, Rhodesy and Yatesy having played really well there, and whatever’s gone’s gone, it’s about now. We just need to take it as deep as we can and see where it gets us.”
Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence combined for a double-century stand, but late wickets saw Warwickshire fight back on the opening day of the LV= Insurance County Championship match at Chelmsford.
Lawrence, allowed to play by England on the proviso he is ready to scuttle down to Lord’s if required, when he will be replaced in the Essex line-up by nominated substitute Nick Browne, gave full range to his shots in an immaculate 152, his second century of the season.
The third-wicket pair put on 227 in 59 overs of elegant stroke-play until Westley dragged Ed Barnard to short midwicket. His 193-ball 114 took his season’s tally to 739 runs, by far the most of any player in Division One.
Matt Critchley upped the tempo with 47 from 43 balls in a 70-run stand with Lawrence, who finally departed after five and a half hours, 225 balls and 15 fours, a second victim for Warwickshire loanee Dom Bess. By the close, Essex had amassed 391 for seven
Westley had won the toss on a green-tinged Chelmsford wicket used previously for a one-day international between Bangladesh and Ireland, and consigned Warwickshire to a sweaty day under floppy sunhats in the field.
The captain found himself at the wicket at the end of the first over after Feroze Khushi – replacing Browne at the top of the order – dabbed at a ball from Chris Rushworth and nicked behind.
Lawrence joined Westley five overs later to resurrect Essex from 20 for two after Sir Alastair Cook was tucked up by Hassan Ali and also went caught behind.
Warwickshire had lost spinner Danny Briggs when he limped out of the Blast last week with a hamstring injury and acted quickly by bringing in Bess on loan from Yorkshire.
Westley took a liking to the one-time England spinner and cracked two fours through the covers before bouncing down the wicket and striking him over midwicket for another boundary. Bess toiled in the sun and ended the first day of his Warwickshire spell with figures of 32-1-143-2.
Westley passed fifty for the sixth time in the Championship this season when he drove his 72nd ball to mid-on for a single. It was marginally quicker – by two balls – than Lawrence’s third score beyond fifty this year.
The partnership was worth 99 at lunch and clicked on to three figures from 150 balls straight after. By tea, another 128 runs were added in 34 overs.
In between, Lawrence was showing what Essex will miss when he moves to Surrey at the end of the season. There was a glorious off-drive to the fence off Hassan Ali and then an effortless straight-drive off the Pakistan bowler.
Warwickshire had also brought in the 30-year-old wrist spinner Jake Lintott at the expense of Olly Hannon-Dalby for only his second first-class appearance. Westley took a liking to him, too. Indeed, his 17th boundary, driven through the covers, took him to his century from 154 balls.
Lawrence’s ton also came from 154 balls when he flicked Will Rhodes through midwicket for his 11th four.
After Westley’s four-hour stay ended to the first ball after tea, Critchley took up the cudgels, punishing Barnard for his audacity in removing the captain with three boundaries in an over.
A six straight back over Bess’s head by Critchley brought up the fifty partnership in just 10 overs. But the ball after he had deposited Lintott over midwicket for a second maximum, he presented the spinner with his first red-ball wicket by slashing a skyer to backward point. He later added Simon Harmer, caught behind, to return figures of 2-56
In between, Bess took a debut wicket when he had Paul Walter chipping to short mid-on, but was then reverse-swept for the four that brought up Lawrence’s 150. However, Bess claimed Lawrence’s scalp when he flicked a catch off his legs.
Warwickshire bowling coach Stuart Barnes said: “It’s nice to see that the work we put in during the day paid off near the end. I think it is just an accumulation of doing the basics well and taking care of each other in conditions – it’s been pretty hot today – and the Kookaburra ball didn’t do a lot. I just think if you do the right things for long enough something happens eventually.
“The Kookaburra ball is an interesting one. We practised with it, but not a lot. Hassan gave us some real good insights into the way that the Kookaburra ball in Pakistan conditions behaves. But there is nothing like learning on the job. The first new-ball this morning I thought we bowled really well, two quick wickets – it would have been nice to get a third before the ball stopped doing anything. It went soft quite early and then it was just a case of just digging in and bowling lots of good balls.
“The second new-ball didn’t really do too much. It actually reacted similar to a white Kookaburra where it might swing for a couple of balls, and that’s what happened with the second one. But it didn’t really do too much and I know our boys would much prefer the Duke’s.
“Danny Briggs got injured in our last T20 game and we kind of suspected we may have to play two spinners here, simply because of Essex’s strengths. So we dug around and Dom is someone I worked with at Somerset briefly, but a few of the lads know him really well. He’s fitted in beautifully. He is clearly a quality operator. Thirty-odd overs there today, a lot of balls in good areas. We’re very pleased Dom is with us. He adds a lot of value. He’s just after opportunities and he’ll take them while he is with us this week.
“We went for two spinners because of the pitch. It’s a used pitch. So Jake as well bowls a lot of good balls – and he’s different. We felt as a second spinner he’d be a good foil for Bess.
“If we can start tomorrow – the weather forecast is slightly cooler, but it’s still good – and close out the innings, the batters will already have got their heads around their best methods of playing Simon Harmer, so let’s see what happens.”
£15 tickets for home quarter-final
Bears have secured a home Vitality Blast quarter-final which will be on Thursday 6 July, with adult tickets only £15.
Tickets ware available online at tickets.edgbaston.com or on the day via the Ticket Office. Members and Season Pass holders can attend for free by scanning their card at the gate.