Essex v Northamptonshire
LV= Insurance County Championship
The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford
Tuesday 21 – Friday 24 September
Essex are on the cusp of being crowned Division 2 Champions when they face Northamptonshire at The Cloudfm County Ground starting on Tuesday at 10:30am.
The home side require just 5 points from the match to win the trophy which would give the club their sixth piece of silverware in six seasons.
Day One of the match with Northamptonshire will see former Captain Ryan ten Doeschate bid his farewells to Members and supporters after a 19-year association with the Club. Following the recent announcement of his retirement, he has confirmed that he has played his final game for the County and will not be featuring in the Northamptonshire fixture.
Although results earlier in the season denied them a place in Division 1, Essex have been in splendid form in the second tier and lead the section by a wide margin.
Tom Westley’s men thrashed Glamorgan and Gloucestershire taking just seven sessions in each game to succeed and in last week’s drawn match with Surrey at The Kia Oval, Essex were totally dominant in two of the three days play that were possible.
Now, with the added incentive of a trophy at stake, they are seeking to continue their impressive conclusion to the campaign.
Until the arrival of rain that totally washed out all proceedings on the penultimate day, Essex seemed on course for anther comprehensive success in their encounter with Surrey.
Alastair Cook produced a sublime performance with an innings of 165, warmly acknowledged by a sizeable crowd, to underpin an Essex total of 439 all out. By the close of Day Two, the home side were in real trouble at 107-7 but after an enforced day’s loss, the pitch became less threatening and Surrey skipper Hashim Amla led his side to safety.
He batted for 5 and a half hours for 84 and when they followed on 278 runs adrift, he was on back at the crease orchestrating another survival effort to successfully rebuff the visitor’s hopes of a third successive Championship win.
Hear from the Head Coach:
Essex Head Coach Anthony McGrath is looking for his charges to finish the season with a flourish.
“After those comprehensive back-to-back wins over Glamorgan and Gloucestershire, we had to accept the draw with Surrey but we are determined to try and make it three wins out of four when we play Northamptonshire,” he said
“The idea at the start of the second phase of Championship cricket was to win all four games but although we’ve not managed to do that, we are determined to try and end the season in style.
“The weather obviously played a big part in the draw with Surrey last week and the pitch got slower and flatter as the game wore on and it would have been tough work for us to have got the win.
“But I still think that had the weather not intervened on Day Three, we could have gone on and got the result we wanted. We had put ourselves into a very strong position to go on and win the game but then the weather played its part. There’s nothing you can do about that. Credit though to Surrey for the way that they batted out the final day and special mention to Hashim Amla, his batting was outstanding.
“We’ve played some really good cricket in these three games. If you look at past seasons, we normally come good at this time of the year and we want to continue that and finish the season with as many points as possible and demonstrate to people that we are still a very good red-ball team.”
Northamptonshire won three of their initial group matches to qualify for Division 2. Their form has been inconsistent at this level with a win, draw and defeat from their three matches.
The victory came against Surrey with a thrilling two-wicket win as they reached 322-8 and posted a County record for their highest-ever successful run chase in their first-class matches with that side.
The draw with Durham proved another tense affair with Northants only 14 runs ahead with one wicket remaining when the match concluded. The defeat was inflicted by Gloucestershire who recorded a 6-wicket success.
Northamptonshire’s leading runs scorers in the Championship this year are Ricardo Vasconcelos with 842 runs at 40.09 and Rob Keogh with 758 at 37.90.
Paceman Ben Sanderson has claimed most wickets for the Wantage Road based team with 43 wickets at 26.86 followed by left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan with 29 victims at 26.03.
One to Watch:
An emerging talent with a classic County cricket pedigree has captured attention in the last two Northamptonshire matches.
James Sales impressed when he recorded his maiden first-class half-century when playing against Durham last week, just a few days after hitting the winning boundary on debut against Surrey.
He is the 18-year-old son of former Northamptonshire batsman David who played 249 first-class matches for the County and aggregated more than 14,000 runs, and the England U19 all-rounder looks to be following in his father’s footsteps with a promising future in the game beckoning.
The last time that the teams met in the County Championship at Chelmsford was in April 2016 when Essex recorded a comprehensive success by an innings and 92 runs.
Ravi Bopara top-scored with 76 whilst Nick Browne, Alastair Cook, Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence all collected half-centuries during an innings of 441 all out. Northamptonshire collapsed to 14-5 before they were eventually dismissed for 119 with Jamie Porter returning 5/46 and then, following-on, they made 230 all out as Ryan ten Doeschate took 4/31.
The teams have clashed on 175 occasions in first-class cricket with Essex claiming 55 victories. Northamptonshire have prevailed in 43 contests whilst 76 matches have been drawn whilst 1 match was tied.
Simon Harmer won his personal race with Sam Cook to become the first Essex bowler this season to claim 50 Championship wickets when he had Surrey’s Rikki Clarke stumped by Adam Wheater leaving his closest contender to the milestone still three short of the target.
By the end of the match with Surrey, the off-spinner’s tally for the campaign in the competition had risen to 53 at an average of 23.05.
Meanwhile, Shane Snater has taken 26 wickets at a cost of 18.61 whilst Jamie Porter has 29 wickets at 27.58.
Although Dan Lawrence heads the batting averages with 607 runs at 55.18, Tom Westley has amassed the highest number of runs by an Essex player in this year’s County Championship with 631 runs at 37.11.
Paul Walter has now posted 518 runs at 37.00 whilst Alastair Cook now has 593 runs at 32.94, and Nick Browne 504 at 31.50.
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, scorecards and clips throughout the day.
The broadcast can be accessed via the Essex Cricket TV YouTube channel or Essex Cricket Matchzone here.