2016 Season Review | April


Essex v Gloucestershire | Specsavers County Championship

Essex kicked off their Specsavers County Championship Division Two campaign welcoming west-country side Gloucestershire to The Essex County Ground.

Chris Silverwood arguably couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to his tenure as his side ran out comprehensive 10-wicket victors to lead the pack after round one of fixtures.

Jamie Porter picked up where he finished 2015, taking four wickets in the first innings, whilst Matt Dixon took two tickets on his Essex debut. Gloucestershire were bowled out for 262 with sole contributions from Gareth Roderick and Hamish Marshall.

Essex then gave a statement of intent scoring 385, with main contributions from England captain Alastair Cook and Tom Westley. Cook scored 105 and Westley 121 before the visitors were skittled again, this time for 215. The wickets were shared between Porter, Graham Napier and Ravi Bopara who took three apiece.

The home side then knocked off the 94 runs required with no issues at all as Nick Browne ended 55 not out and Cook backed up his hundred in the first innings with 35 not out. The perfect start for Silverwood as he started his reign with a victory.

Essex v Sussex | Specsavers County Championship

Silverwood’s team headed to Hove off the back of a comprehensive opening round win looking to cement their position at the top-of-the-table.

Relegated Sussex were a wounded animal after their disappointments of the previous campaign and were still a side packed with dangerous players.

Sussex batted first and a 188 run opening stand between Ed Joyce and Chris Nash put Essex on the back foot from the get go. Nash eventually departed for an excellent 119 while Joyce made 61 but if it wasn’t for a resilient 51 from Ollie Robinson down the order, the hosts would of mustered much less than the 360 they scored. Napier was the pick of the bowlers in the first innings taking three wickets while Porter took another two.

Westley was again in the runs as he scored 86, while Jesse Ryder and Captain Ryan ten Doeschate contributed 51 each respectively. Napier also made a valuable 45 down the order as Essex responded with 320 all out.

Nash continued to look in imperious form in Sussex’s second innings only to fall eight shy of a second century in the match as Napier snared him LBW. Matt Machan added 47 runs of his own but Sussex were undone by respective five-wicket hauls from Napier and Porter and could only muster 288 all out.

Needing 329 runs to win and achieve a second victory of the season Essex were eventually indebted to an outstanding hundred from Cook to save the game. Sussex were left to rue the one chance he gave when Danny Briggs spilled a regulation catch at first slip off the bowling of Robinson. The England Test captain had only made one at that time but that was to be his only indiscretion.

Essex were in slight trouble at 80-3 and 128-4 but Cook’s experience along with resistant knocks from Ryder and ten Doeschate saw the visitors reach a valuable draw against the pre-season promotion favourites.

Essex v Northamptonshire | Specsavers County Championship 

Essex welcomed Northamptonshire to Chelmsford and continued their fine early season form. After batting first, Silverwood’s team scored a mammoth 441-8 declared which saw nobody hit a hundred. Browne scored 60, Cook 65, Westley 64, Bopara 76 and Lawrence 51 as the top order led Essex to 390-6 alone. Foster added some late impetus with 36 and Ben Sanderson was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors taking five wickets.

They could only respond with 119 as Rossington scored the bulk of the runs with 67. Captain ten Doeschate then enforced the follow-on which saw Northants again bowled out, this time for 230, with Essex running out victors by an innings and 92 runs.

Napier and Porter continued their excellent early season form taking three wickets each while ten Doeschate took four as well. Porter had now claimed 22 wickets during the opening three Specsavers County Championship games, while Napier also bagged 19.

The high volume of runs Essex were scoring so early in the season would bode well for Head Coach Silverwood as the season progressed.