Essex Over 50’s cruise into National Final

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Fifties from Mel Hussain and Neil Burns placed the Essex Over-50s into the National Final as they swept past Somerset by five wickets last Sunday in Southend.

Essex put Somerset in to bat and the batsmen were immediately under the cosh as Graham Poulton was LBW to Arshad Mughal for one run and Simon Hogg was trapped for five by Tim Smith.

Opener Marc Jenkins and new partner Ian Thomas then steadied the ship for Somerset, building a 40-run partnership with Jenkins taking most of the strike.

But Jenkins was caught out by Joseph Pierre off Mughal’s bowing for 37 runs, and Thomas and Andy Stevens were unable to up the scoring rate.

Hussain removed Stevens LBW for 16 and when Tony Scott was caught for duck, Somerset were in trouble at 95-5.

Hussain picked up his second wicket for Essex, bowing Thomas for a slow 36, but Chris Brewer and Keith Graddon came in and began to score quickly in an effort to post a defendable total.

Their efforts saw Somerset to a score of 182-9 in their 45 overs. Mughal was the pick of the Essex bowlers, taking 2-19 in nine overs with six maidens.

Hussain and Neil Braithwaite opened the run chase for Essex and their strategy quickly became clear. Hussain stayed in and scored at a slow but steady rate, whilst Braithwaite struck a quick 28 before he was caught out.

Burns came in first wicket and proved more than capable of acting as the lead batsman in his partnership with Hussain, scoring 57 runs from 47 deliveries with 11 fours.

Burns was then caught by Hogg with Tony Scott bowling and Essex had a slight hiccup in the chase as Kevin Grant was LBW for a two-ball duck to Craig Dredge.

But Essex were still in a good position and Hussain began to take over the later stages of the match. He finished with 66 runs not out and Essex crossed the line with seven overs to spare and five wickets in hand.

The win means that Essex will play in the Over-50s National Final against Leicestershire & Rutland, who defeated Staffordshire by 50 runs on Tuesday.