Match Report: Essex v Middlesex



Essex v Middlesex

Bob Willis Trophy (South Group)
The Cloudfm County Ground, Sunday 06 – Wednesday 09 September


Team News:

Essex: Paul Walter, Alastair Cook, Tom Westley (c), Dan Lawrence, Feroze Khushi, Ryan ten Doeschate, Adam Wheater (wk), Simon Harmer, Aaron Beard, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter.

Middlesex: Sam Robson, Max Holden, Nick Gubbins, Steve Eskinazi (c), Robbie White, Martin Andersson, John Simpson (wk), Blake Cullen, James Harris, Thilan Walallawita, Tim Murtagh.

Match Details:

Umpires: Russell Warren & Paul Pollard
Match Referee: Peter Such
Toss: Middlesex, who elected to bat first
Result: Essex win by 9 wickets

Day Three Match Highlights:

Anthony McGrath’s Day Three reaction:

Day Three Close of Play Report:

Essex are through to the final of the Bob Willis Trophy. They made sure of their Lord’s date later this month by completing a 9-wicket triumph over Middlesex at The Cloudfm County Ground with a day and two sessions to spare and extended the Essex winning run in red-ball cricket at Chelmsford to 11 matches.

They needed only 14.5 overs to collect the remaining Middlesex wickets after they had resumed on 123 for 6 and knocked off the 53 required for victory in 13.5 overs for the loss of Alastair Cook.

Paceman Sam Cook struck with his second delivery by bowling James Harris without addition to the overnight score and followed it up by dismissing Blake Cullen as wicket-keeper Adam Wheater claimed his sixth catch of the match.

Thilan Walallawita then had his off-stump knocked out of the ground by Aaron Beard before Simon Harmer brought the innings to a close when he had Tim Murtagh stumped, leaving John Simpson stranded on 26 out of a total of 150 all out.

Beard finished with a career-best 4-21 from 10 overs while Cook’s 3-28 from 20 overs gave him a match haul of 7-55. Harmer, as accurate as ever, finished with 3-54 from 28.5 overs.

Essex were quickly into their stride when they set off for victory. Paul Walter found the ropes in the first over and Alastair Cook was soon finding the boundary either side of the wicket.

The introduction of Cullen into the attack was greeted by Walter who picked off three boundaries in one over, but it came as something of a surprise when Cook was castled by Murtagh for 21 with the score on 41 in the 11th over.

However, Walter and skipper Tom Westley reached the winning post as they finished on 20 not out and 10 not out respectively.

It all added up to an impressive team performance by Essex with Wheater leading the way. He has established himself as a very fine wicket-keeper, confirmed by claiming a total of seven victims in the match, but it was his batting that proved the defining factor after he arrived at the wicket with his side in serious trouble at 87 for 5.

Displaying caution and controlled aggression, Wheater battled throughout the remainder of the innings to finish with an unbeaten 83 and guide Essex to an all out total of 236 and a substantial first innings lead of 98.

Walter is probably the surprise package amongst the batsmen, having enhanced his reputation, first in the middle-order and again when he was promoted to open the innings. He has so far collected 245 runs in five completed innings full of discipline and determination.

On the bowling front, Harmer confirmed he is the best spinner in the country, his guile and variation earning him 34 wickets while the three-pronged pace attack of Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and Aaron Beard have proved themselves a potent force with a haul of 42 wickets between them.

Day Two Match Highlights:

Aaron Beard’s Day Two reaction:

Day Two Close of Play Report:

Essex were closing in on a victory against Middlesex at The Cloudfm County Ground that could take them to the final of the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s later this month.

After being bowled out for 236 to earn a first innings lead of 98, they had the visitors struggling at 123 for 6 at the close of the second day.

Their position of strength owed much to the efforts of Adam Wheater who followed up his five catches in the Middlesex first innings with a superb 83 not out.

The morning did not begin well for Essex after they had resumed on 108 for 5. With only 14 added, Ryan ten Doeschate was forced to leave the field with a back muscle spasm despite receiving lengthy treatment from physiotherapist Chris Clarke–Irons before retiring.

But his departure heralded the arrival of Simon Harmer to share with Wheater, what was to prove an invaluable liaison.

It yielded 72 runs in 16.3 overs to carry the total to 194 but then Harmer, who had struck six boundaries in his 32, fell leg before wicket to the medium-pace of Martin Andersson.

That was the start of a profitable spell by Andersson who got rid of Aaron Beard and Sam Cook with the score on 203 to pave the way for ten Doeschate to resume his innings after retiring on 31. With Dan Lawrence acting as a runner, ten Doeschate was to add another dozen runs before Andersson had him caught behind.

Soon afterwards, Tim Murtagh brought the innings to an end, again with John Simpson’s help, to leave Wheater stranded with a century in sight.

Wheater combined caution with several pugnacious pulls and well-timed strokes through the offside in a 142-ball effort the brought him 11 boundaries and further enhanced his reputation as a gutsy middle-order batsman.

Middlesex started their second innings on an encouraging foundation raising the 50 for only the loss of Sam Robson who was caught at slip by Harmer off Sam Cook for 6 to give the bowler his fifth wicket of the match.

Off-spinner Harmer then removed Nick Gubbins, leg before with the last ball before tea, taken with the visitors on 58 for 2.

And after the interval, Beard was to plunge Middlesex into deep trouble by capturing three wickets at a cost of four runs in 5.1 overs.

He started by bowling Steve Eskinazi for 5 before also breaching the defences of Max Holden, who had made 37, and then having Andersson edging to Harmer at second slip for 3.

That left the visitors on 84 for 5 but Simpson and Robbie White put together a gutsy stand of 34 to ensure the match went into a third day. The partnership was broken just before the close when Harmer returned for a second spell to trap White lbw for 23 leaving John Simpson 16 not out and James Harris 3 not out.

Both batsmen were able to survive until the close with a lead of just 25 and will return to the crease tomorrow morning with the score on 123-6.

However, it will take something bordering on the miraculous to deny Essex victory on Day Three.

Day One Match Highlights:

Sam Cook’s Day One reaction:

Day One Close of Play Report:

Paul Walter and Sam Cook shared the honours as Essex found themselves involved in an intriguing Bob Willis Trophy clash against Middlesex on a day when 15 wickets fell at The Cloudfm County Ground.

Cook enjoyed his best figures of the season returning 4 for 27 in 15 overs as the visitors, who won the toss, were bowled out for 138 before Walter held the Essex batting together whilst the rest of the top-order were blown away. By the close, the home side trailed by 30 runs with five wickets intact.

Walter struck the top-score of the match so far when making an impressive 43 to take his aggregate to 225 in the competition following six trips to the middle. And it was just as well the tall left-hander confirmed his growing reputation as a reliable performer.

Alastair Cook, Tom Westley, Dan Lawrence and Feroze Khushi could only manage 15 runs between them as the home side slumped to 44 for 4 in 16 overs against a three-pronged pace attack.

After Cook edged a drive to Steve Eskinazi at first slip to provide Blake Cullen with success, Westley and Lawrence were both caught by wicket-keeper John Simpson to give Tim Murtagh a double success.

Khushi then became an lbw victim of James Harris, the four wickets going down in the space of 8 overs.

But Walter was to find a resolute partner in the evergreen Ryan ten Doeschate. He may be in his 41st year but he remains an integral part of the side, particularly when it comes to getting his teammates out of tricky situations.

Like Walter, he treated every ball on its merits and their partnership was worth 43 before Walter’s defences were breached by Harris after the opener had spent just over 2 hours at the crease. He had faced 79 deliveries sending six of them to the boundary land his departure left the home side 87 for 5.

Tendo was still breathing defiance at the close with 28 against his name from a total of 66 deliveries and he will resume a sixth-wicket partnership with Adam Wheater who has scored 18 of the 21 runs added spanning 46 balls.

Earlier the pinpoint accuracy and hostility of Sam Cook plus fine support from Jamie Porter and Simon Harmer combined with five catches for wicket-keeper Adam Wheater resulted in Middlesex’s demise.

They lost half their side for 50 with Cook and Porter sharing four wickets before Harmer claimed his first of the innings and the trio continued to cause problems a-plenty for the batsmen.

Only Harris with 34 managed to get beyond 20 but he fell leg before wicket to Cook and the guile and variation from off-spinner Harmer proved too much for the lower order.

The South African emerged with 3 for 34 in 18.3 overs to take his tally of wickets in the Bob Willis Trophy to 31 so far while Porter claimed his three wickets at a personal cost of 55 runs.