Essex V Middlesex
Bob Willis Trophy
The Cloudfm County Ground
Sunday 06 – Wednesday 09 September
Essex entertain Middlesex at The Cloudfm County Ground starting on Sunday (10:30am) in the final qualifying Bob Willis Trophy match.
The home side, who remain unbeaten after winning three of the four matches, currently lead the South Group with 70 points; six ahead of Kent.
However, only two of the three group winners will contest the final at Lord’s with the deciding factor being the pair with the highest points totals. Entering the final round of matches, there is fierce competition to make it through to the final at the home of cricket.
Kent host Hampshire at Canterbury in their concluding match and elsewhere Somerset, who head the Central Group with 76 points meet Worcestershire at New Road. Somerset start the match with 76 points, six ahead of the home side.
Meanwhile, Derbyshire lead the North Group with 71 points, five more than closest pursuers Yorkshire. Derbyshire face Lancashire at Liverpool in their last match, whilst Yorkshire take on Leicestershire at Headingley.
Westley looks ahead to Bob Willis Trophy decider:
Head Coach’s View:
Head Coach Anthony McGrath is hoping that victory over Middlesex will secure a place in the Lord’s Final.
“If we can get the win, then it should put us in a good position to achieving one of those two places,” he said.
“Hopefully, we can get some batting bonus points on the board with the bat and then our attack can do what it’s been doing regularly and take 20 wickets.
“I think we should have got more runs in both games at Chelmsford but it was much more like our true form at Arundel when we played Hampshire.
“The way that our openers Paul Walter and Alastair Cook played was fantastic to see and then followed by Alastair and Dan Lawrence helped us to get into a really good position and we were 249 for 3. If we’d batted out the 120 overs we would have got a lot more bonus points, so that was frustrating.
“But we will look to take that form we showed at Arundel into Sunday’s game.
“We have shown a very high level of consistency in our red-ball cricket over the past few years and as I have said on a number of occasions, I still think that we can improve further, particularly with the bat.
“And that’s a really exciting prospect.”
Essex can boast a clean bill of health ahead of the game and have named a 15-man squad.
Youngsters, Rishi Patel and Jack Plom are not available for this match after joining Leicestershire and Surrey, respectively for this final round of games.
21 Tom Westley (C)
65 Ben Allison
14 Aaron Beard
10 Nick Browne
26 Alastair Cook
16 Sam Cook
11 Simon Harmer
23 Feroze Khushi
28 Dan Lawrence
44 Jamie Porter
27 Ryan ten Doeschate
22 Paul Walter
31 Adam Wheater (WK)
Middlesex come into the game placed in third position after a 5-wicket victory over Sussex during the last round of Bob Willis Trophy fixtures.
Stephen Eskinazi (c), Martin Andersson, Ethan Bamber, Miguel Cummins, Jack Davies, Nick Gubbins, James Harris, Max Holden, Tim Murtagh, Sam Robson, John Simpson (wk), Nathan Sowter, Robbie White, Thilan Walallawita.
Toby Roland-Jones is an absentee for the visitors having been sidelined with a persistent shoulder problem that will rule him out of the remainder of the season.
Tom Helm is being rested for this match following the block of Vitality Blast matches so misses this clash.
Since the first meeting back in 1895, Essex have won only 38 of the clashes with Middlesex enjoying 55 victories.
The last time that the two teams clashed in red-ball action came back in June 2017, a season that saw Essex lift the County Championship title for the first time since 1992.
Playing with a pink ball in the experimental day/night game at The Cloudfm County Ground, Middlesex were dismissed for 246 with spin-king Harmer claiming 5 for 77. The Essex openers Nick Browne and Alastair Cook then set a new first-wicket partnership record for the county of 373 before being parted when Cook was dismissed for 193. Browne made 221 and then Varun Chopra struck a quickfire century allowing Essex to declare on 542 for three late into day three.
By tea on the final day, Middlesex appeared to have saved the game going to the interval on 211 for 4 and when the last hour commenced at 8pm, they were looking comfortable at 247 for 5.
However, magician Harmer continued to weave his magic striking twice in four balls to reduce the opposition to 261 for 8 and all Harmer victims. Dan Lawrence ended the South African’s hopes of going through the card with all ten wickets by claiming Toby Roland-Jones leg before but amidst great tension, Harmer had the final word when, with 8 balls of the match remaining, he trapped Steve Finn in front of his stumps.
The last four wickets had fallen in 27 balls and the phenomenal Harmer ended the game with second-innings figures of 9 for 95.
How To Watch:
Our Live Stream service will be available across all four days of this game from 10:30am, which also includes player stats, scorecard and clips throughout the day. Access via the Essex Cricket Matchzone which is available – here.