Worcestershire v Essex
LV= Insurance County Championship
New Road, Thursday 29 – Sunday 02 May
Worcestershire: Jake Libby (c), Daryl Mitchell, Tom Fell, Gareth Roderick, Brett D’Oliveira, Riki Wessels, Ben Cox (wk), Ed Barnard, Alzarri Joseph, Dillon Pennington, Charlie Morris.
Essex: Nick Browne, Alastair Cook, Tom Westley (c), Dan Lawrence, Paul Walter, Ryan ten Doeschate, Adam Wheater (wk), Simon Harmer, Peter Siddle, Shane Snater, Sam Cook.
Umpires: Graham Lloyd & Robert White
Toss: Essex won and elected to bat first
Result: Match drawn
Day Four Match Highlights:
Day Four Reaction: Anthony McGrath
Day Four Match Report:
Essex took 12 points from their drawn match with Worcestershire at New Road where the home team were made to follow on before reaching 129-2 when the teams settled for the draw with 14 overs remaining.
Jake Libby, who scored an unbeaten 180 in the match at Chelmsford, again frustrated Essex with 52 not out guiding Worcestershire to safety on a ground where only 40 wickets have fallen in 8 days (20 fell in the Worcestershire match with Nottinghamshire last week).
Sam Cook and Simon Harmer had given the visitors the opportunity of victory when they combined to take four wickets in the morning session to put the home side on the back foot but it was a tall order for the Champions’ attack to keep the game alive on a slow flat pitch.
Harmer sent down a total of 56 overs for his 4 wickets during the match, Australian international Peter Siddle went wicketless in 28 overs but Cook picked up 6 wickets in the match for 67 runs including impressive second innings analyses of 11-7-7-2.
Libby and Tom Fell steadily neutered the position of any concern for the Pears with a stand of 81 in 29 overs in their second innings that had started with the home side trailing by 197 runs with a minimum of 67 overs available.
They had lost Daryl Mitchell to Cook for 20 but from then on, despite a regular rotation of the bowlers, Libby and Fell stood firm playing with mature good sense in the afternoon against an attack that worked tirelessly but without reward or too much encouragement.
Cook then raised a glimmer of hope when he trapped Fell in front of his stumps for 35 with the first ball after Tea but Libby and Gareth Roderick batted out the remaining 65 minutes with few worries.
Essex collected 12 points from the match and currently lie fifth in Group One but, only five points behind leaders Warwickshire with all teams having played four rounds of their 10 matches.
Having started the final day on 302-5 in reply to Essex’s 561-8 declared, Riki Wessels was dismissed in the fifth over of the morning for 33, when he lost his middle stump when he dragged the ball on attempting to cut a ball from Cook.
Ben Cox struck three boundaries in one over from Shane Snater who was then immediately replaced by Harmer whilst at the opposite end, the spirited and threatening Cook continued the collapse with the dismissal of Cox and Alzarri Joseph. It was the bowler’s third wicket in 16 balls at a cost of one run.
Cox was bowled through the gate for 37 and Joseph was struck on the front pad for a second ball duck as Worcestershire slid to 326-8 before, without addition to the score, Harmer teased out Ed Barard for a single with a ball that turned and went between bat and pad.
Three wickets had now crashed in 14 balls but a pocket of resistance came from the last wicket when Dillon Pennington and Charlie Morris held up Essex for 49 minutes before Pennington lost patience, attempted to slog Dan Lawrence over deep mid-wicket and was bowled for 30 as Worcestershire succumbed for 364.
Cook’s first innings haul of 4 for 60 took his season’s tally to 16 for the season (he was to add a couple more victims second time around) whilst Harmer’s 4 for 85 swelled the off-spinner’s tally to 21 so far.
Essex travel to Trent Bridge to meet Nottinghamshire in their next LV= Insurance County Championship match which starts on Thursday.
Day Three Match Highlights:
Day Three Reaction: Shane Snater
Day Three Match Report:
When Simon grabbed three wickets in 22 balls, Essex had high hopes that they could run through the Worcestershire side and enforce a follow-on to set up the prospect of a positive result from the match at New Road.
But they were frustrated by a century partnership between Tom Fell and Brett D’Oliveira before the home side reached the close on 302-5, still trailing by 259 runs. Riki Wessels is unbeaten on 24 and Ben Cox is 23 not out.
Worcestershire had moved sweetly to 111 before Harmer broke the opening partnership and that led to a mini-collapse as the off-spinner’s wiles reduced the home side to 132-3.
Jake Libby was the first to go, bowled for 41 when attempting to cut Harmer before the bowler had Daryl Mitchell caught at forward short leg by Ryan ten Doeschate for 67 and then produced a delivery that beat Gareth Roderick through the gate before the batsman had got off the mark.
But Brett D’Oliveira joined Tom Fell to steady a ship that had suddenly started to flounder but playing with good sense and diligence, they pulled their side into calmer waters to ease the pressure.
Rain delayed the resumption after lunch by half-an-hour but the batsmen safely negotiated all 33 overs of the afternoon period.
Harmer bowled unchanged from the Diglis End during the post Lunch session but despite varying his line, flight and pace, he was unable to find the assistance from the pitch he had enjoyed earlier as Worcestershire went into with both batsmen in the forties and the total on 219-3.
Fell completed his half-century when he steered a delivery from Harmer to the ropes for the eighth boundary of his innings that had spanned 131 deliveries at that stage.
Sam Cook and Peter Siddle shared the second new ball immediately it became due after 80 overs and with the scoreboard showing 227-3 and shortly after, D’Oliveira posted a couple of runs from Siddle to arrive at his half-century, this one including 5 fours from 115 balls and also brought up the hundred stand.
It was Cook who finally found the edge to break a partnership that had proved so effective for the home side when Fell, on 53, flirted with a ball outside off stump but only succeeded in edging a straightforward catch to Adam Wheater.
And the wicket-keeper added another victim to give Shane Snater his maiden first-class wicket for the county when D’Oliveira, who had reached 63 out of 259, hung out his bat to a ball outside off stump.
Nine balls later with the light deteriorating, Captain Tom Westley was forced to alter his strategy, removing Snater and Cook from the line of attack with Dan Lawrence and Harmer taking over bowling duties as Essex went in search of a further wicket to keep the pressure on their opponents attempts to avert the follow-on and bring the Champions a further bonus point.
But although the light improved sufficiently for Siddle to replace Lawrence, the further breakthrough eluded Essex as Worcestershire eased to 300-5 by the cut-off for bonus points.
Harmer has so far sent down 39 overs in this innings taking 3 for 75 whilst Cook has taken 1 for 49 and Snater 1 for 59.
Day Two Match Highlights:
Day Two Reaction: Tom Westley
Day Two Match Report:
Tom Westley continued his love affair with the Worcestershire attack hitting a century at New Road where Essex piled up the runs declaring on 561-8 before Worcestershire reached the close on 37 without loss.
It was the highest total recorded by Essex since 2016 when they were dismissed for 569 by Kent at Chelmsford.
After Alastair Cook had contributed 115 on the opening day, Westley, supported by 90 from Dan Lawrence, built on the solid foundations. The Essex Captain was in imperious form, selective in driving and working the ball superbly off his legs.
With 75 runs to his name overnight, he continued in command of the bowling to arrive at his century having faced 236 balls and including 12 boundaries in 311 minutes.
He was struck a painful blow on the hand by paceman Charlie Morris immediately after he reached three figures but went onto post 113 before departing.
It was the third time in his last six innings at Worcester that he had scored a century (two for Essex and one for the England Lions) whilst three weeks ago, the 32-year-old took 213 off the Worcestershire attack.
Resuming at the start of the day on 266-2, Westley and Lawrence reached the 110 overs cut off for bonus points with the score on 300-2 denying Worcestershire any bowling points whilst Essex claimed three.
The duo carried the score to 340 and their partnership to 130 before the third wicket fell when Westley top-edged an intended slog-sweep against Jake Libby’s first ball to be caught by the wicket-keeper.
Lawrence, who had completed a 77-ball half-century, his third in as many matches, had a century in sight before he was struck on the back pad by Dillon Pennington and sent on his way. He had impressed playing with noticeable accomplishment and timing the ball superbly to collect 9 fours and a six.
The first four-wicket partnerships had all posted at least 50 runs, two had reached three figures, and the runs continued to mount up when Ryan ten Doeschate joined Walter.
They both savoured the opportunity to prosper in the friendly batting conditions with a 73 runs stand before Walter sliced the ball to short third man having scored 65, the third time in his last four trips to the middle that he had reached the half-century milestone.
Now 463-5, ten Doeschate departed for 41 with a further 8 runs added. Adam Wheater chipped in with 23 whilst Simon Harmer, having scored 82 not out at Edgbaston in the previous match, added an unbeaten and entertaining 57 from 51 balls before the visitors declared to leave their fielding weary opponents with an hour’s batting.
Sam Cook and Peter Siddle took the new ball before Harmer was called into the attack but he was unable to breach the defences of Daryl Mitchell (17 not out) and Jake Libby (15 not out) in his four overs and he will hope that he finds the pitch increasingly responsive to his guile when play resumes tomorrow.
Day One Match Highlights:
Day One Reaction: Alastair Cook
Day One Match Report:
Alastair Cook stroked his way to the 25th first-class century of his Essex career as the county reached 266 for 2 at the close of the LV=Insurance County Championship clash with Worcestershire at New Road.
Tom Westley will resume the match on 75 and Dan Lawrence 33 as they continue a partnership that has so far struck 56 runs.
Earlier in the game, Cook was eventually dismissed for 115 after an innings that contained 17 boundaries from the 263 balls he faced when he dragged a wide delivery from Alzarri Joseph onto his stumps.
New Road will surely rank as one of Cook’s favourite venues. With the aesthetically pleasing Cathedral as the backcloth to the venue, he now boasts an average of 112 on the ground having scored 3 hundreds in his 4 matches for Essex. In 2005, he scored 35 and 117 not out, in 2016 he hit 142 and 48 not out, and in 2018, 37 and 66. These innings served to swell the impressive statistics further.
On a slow and docile pitch, typically studious defence interspersed with cuts and drives proved to be the catalyst once again for yet another valuable innings in a prolific career that includes 12,472 runs in his 161 Tests.
Cook launched his innings with a single from the 12th delivery he received and gathered his first boundary 17 balls later.
By lunch, he had reached 36 out of a total of 64 without loss, the fifth session of play on the ground that had failed to produce a wicket.
But that long barren void for bowlers ended six overs after lunch when Nick Browne, who had survived two sharp chances to Daryl Mitchell at second slip to progress to 26, stepped across the line and was leg before to West Indies International paceman Joseph.
It offered welcome relief for Worcestershire captain Jake Libby leading the side for the first time.
Browne’s departure brought Tom Westley to the crease. The Essex captain has sweet memories of the Worcestershire attack having helped himself to a double-century off them at Chelmsford three weeks ago and he was soon indulging himself getting off the mark with a boundary from the bowling of Joseph.
Meanwhile, Cook, whose previous highest score this term was 46, opened the face of the bat to steer the ball through slips to reach a 123-ball half-century with his 8th four.
Both batsmen were completely at ease, Cook driving through the covers impressively whilst Westley executed successive on drives to the ropes off Charlie Morris.
A patient approach by the pair brought up the century stand in 209 balls, Cook providing 56 and Westley 35, and soon after, a misfield took the prolific Cook to within one run of his 68th first-class century.
And the runs continued to flow from the run-machine when he turned a ball from Dillon Pennington off his hips down to fine leg for a single to bring him to three figures.
Whilst Cook was adding to his inexhaustible abundance of runs, all the while Westley was enjoying himself. He too holds affectionate memories of the Pears home ground having collected two centuries and one fifty in his 6 matches ahead of this season.
Having been dropped by Ben Cox behind the stumps on 45 when facing Ed Barnard, he celebrated the “life” by moving to his half-century in having faced 144 deliveries that included 8 fours. He showed his class, timing the ball superbly and driving profitably on both sides of the wicket.
The departure of Cook with the score on 210, three overs after the new ball had been taken, heralded the arrival of Dan Lawrence who was immediately in attacking mode collecting two boundaries from a Barnard over.
The 250 – and second batting point – arrived in the 93rd over and the increased batting tempo brought a 50 runs liaison from 75 balls.
But there was a let-off for Lawrence when facing the final delivery of the day when Cox failed to hold onto a chance off the bowling of Pennington whose disappointment was compounded when the ball raced to the boundary.
Essex made one change from the side that lost to Warwickshire with Shane Snater drafted in to replace Jamie Porter who was rested.
Born in Harare, the 25-year-old who has represented Netherlands since 2016, is making his first-class county debut although he has made 3 List A games and 12 T20 matches for Essex so far.