Match Report: Essex v Worcestershire



Essex v Worcestershire

LV= Insurance County Championship
The Cloudfm County Ground, Thursday 08 – Sunday 11 March


Team News:

Essex: Alastair Cook, , Nick Browne, Tom Westley (c), Dan Lawrence, Paul Walter, Ryan ten Doeschate, Adam Wheater (wk), Simon Harmer, Ben Allison, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter.

Worcestershire: Jake Libby, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Fell, Gareth Roderick, Brett D’Oliveira, Riki Wessels, Ben Cox (wk), Ed Barnard, Joe Leach (c), Dillon Pennington, Charlie Morris.

Match Details:

Umpires: Neil Mallender & David Millns
Toss: Essex won and elected to bat first

Day Four Match Highlights

Day Four Reaction: Ben Allison

Day Four Match Report

Defending Champions, Essex were left to settle for a haul of 13 points as their battle with Worcestershire, who took 12 points, drifted to a draw at The Cloudfm County Ground.

In response to a score of 490 for 9 declared, the visitors were bowled out for 475 with opener Jake Libby carrying his bat for 180 that included 15 fours and one six.

His marathon effort consumed 11 hours and 21 minutes and he faced 496 deliveries during which he shared in a seventh-wicket stand of 244 with Ed Barnard, just 12 runs short of their county’s record for that wicket.

They had resumed the final day on 350 and added a further 39 before Dan Lawrence breached the defences of Barnard for 128 to end an innings that had brought him 18 boundaries and a maiden first-class century.

Joe Leach was caught behind one run later for a single to give Ben Allison his maiden first-class victim for Essex (he had taken 3 when on loan to Gloucestershire in 2019) but his departure only heralded the arrival of Dillon Pennington who put together a career-best of 56 that contained 10 boundaries in a stand worth 75.

Pennington was eventually stumped by Adam Wheater off Simon Harmer who, during the two days, sent down 61.3 overs, the most he has delivered in a single innings for the county.

Harmer then brought the innings to an end with the wicket of Charlie Morris to finish with figures of 3 for 126 while Sam Cook, who destroyed the early part of the visitors’ innings, claimed 4 for 100 in 37 overs.

Libby’s effort spoke volumes for his patience as he became the first Worcestershire player to carry his bat for six years – Daryl Mitchel did so in 2015 – but today, his innings was devoid of entertainment value.

In one spell following the demise of Barnard, he managed just 16 runs in 32.2 overs but even so, he will rightly have derived satisfaction for what he achieved.

When his side’s innings was concluded, Libby had carved a niche for himself in the County Championship record books with the second-longest individual innings – just 2 minutes shorter than Jason Gallian for Lancashire versus Derbyshire in 1996.

Essex faced only 10 overs before the captains shook hands on the draw although they did lose the services of Alastair Cook who was bowled for 12 when playing a loose drive against Joe Leach.

At the close, Nick Browne was unbeaten on 7 and Tom Westley was 8 not out with Essex 28 for 1 in their second innings.

Next opponents for the reigning champions are Durham who visits Chelmsford for a County Championship clash starting on Thursday.

Day Three Match Highlights

Day Three Reaction: Anthony McGrath

Day Three Match Report

Jake Libby and Ed Barnard frustrated Essex with magnificent unbeaten centuries as Worcestershire reached the close of play on 350 for 6, still 140 runs adrift of their hosts, but with the match seemingly destined for a draw.

Libby has batted for 7 hours and 49 minutes in reaching 141 and Barnard will resume in the morning with 116 to his name after batting for 4 hours and 10 minutes.

Yet Worcestershire had looked down and out when they lost their fourth wicket of the innings to the second ball of the day that left them 43 for 4.

But opener Libby was ably supported by Barnard, who struck a maiden first-class hundred, and Riki Wessels who scored 54 to carry their side to likely survival with only one day left for play.

Libby has been on the field for every minute of the three days having spent more than 5 and a half hours in the field when Essex batted before spending the remaining time occupying the crease.

He anchored the West Country side after the reigning Champions had enjoyed the perfect start when Sam Cook struck with the second ball collected of the day to pick up his fourth wicket of the innings thus far that reduced the visitors to 43 for 4.

The 23-year-old paceman had taken his first three wickets towards the close of the second day before Brett D’Oliveira walked in front of his stumps, to leave the bowler enjoying a wonderful sequence of 4 wickets in 12 balls without a run conceded.

But Libby offered an altogether different challenge. Showing aptitude, attitude, and application he proved a doughty performer.

Firstly, together with Wessels, he set about restoring the innings against an attack that were made to show patience before celebrating their next victim. Both batsmen stood firm before starting to dominate the bowlers with good footwork and good sense.

Wessels arrived at his half-century from 82 balls but his carefully-crafted innings in a stand of 89 was ended after almost two hours by Jamie Porter when he was lbw to a ball angled across him.

At lunch, Worcestershire were 142 for 5 and with the fourth delivery of the afternoon session, they lost another wicket when Ben Cox fatally opted to sweep across the line when facing Simon Harmer and was lbw for seven.

Any thoughts that the home side may have harboured of wrapping up the innings before the end of the session were ended by the arrival of Barnard who took over the role played so effectively by Wessels as a dependable ally to Libby.

Barnard settled at the crease immediately in an intriguing post-lunch session with Worcestershire conscious that avoiding the follow-on, that had seemed unlikely shortly after play began on day three was now becoming more attainable.

Essex skipper Tom Westley regularly rotated his bowlers in a fruitless attempt to find a breakthrough. Newcomer, Ben Allison was given three separate spells and returned commendable figures of 18-5-47-0 but, like his senior pace colleagues Jamie Porter and Sam Cook, found the going tough particularly after lunch when the pitch offered little encouragement as the bowlers toiled away.

Neither was their assistance for Harmer illustrated by his figures of 44-11-100-1.

Barnard, a composed and doughty opponent, offered a disciplined and controlled inning and reached his maiden century from 168 balls, with 15 boundaries.

Both he and Libby batsmen played beautifully showing few concerns even against the second new ball taken with the score 208 for 6 as Essex searched desperately for another breakthrough.

It had been bitterly cold on the first two days but the third day temperatures sank to a level more in keeping with Arctic conditions plus mizzle during the afternoon session on a day when the floodlights shone throughout.

Libby and Barnard ensured that there was nothing to warm the Essex hearts as they blunted the bowling keeping the attack at bay as their seventh-wicket partnership flourished.

A boundary by Barnard off Porter averted the follow-on and by the close, their defining partnership had reached 205, a record seventh-wicket stand for their county in first-class matches against Essex.

Day Two Match Highlights

Day Two Reaction: Sam Cook

Day Two Match Report

Tom Westley led from the front as Essex dominated the second day of the LV= Insurance County Championship against Worcestershire at The Cloudfm County Ground.

The 32-year-old Captain scored a superb 213 to steer his side to a formidable 490-9declared before Sam Cook produced a stunning spell to reduce the visitors to 43-3 at the close and trailing by 447 runs.

Westley, 84 overnight, never looked in the slightest trouble while underlying his love for the Worcestershire bowling. The other double century of his career came against them, also at Chelmsford, when he scored 254 in 2016.

On this occasion, his marathon effort spanned just over 9 hours and brought him 32 boundaries before he was caught on the mid-wicket boundary by Ed Barnard while attacking a delivery from spinner Brett D’Oliveira.

Westley made serene progress with some sweetly-timed drives, the majority through the onside as the visiting attack was put to the sword.

Essex had begun the day on 207-3 and Westley was to share in two century partnerships.

First of all, he continued his unbroken overnight stand with Paul Walter, who contributed 38 out of 124 in a little more than 44 overs, before a punishing partnership with Adam Wheater realised 157 in 42 overs for the sixth wicket.

Wheater punctuated his innings with pugnacious driving and delicate cuts on his way to 87 from 149 deliveries that included six fours before he too was caught on the boundary off D’Oliveira.

Sandwiched between those three-figure liaisons, came a half-century stand with Ryan ten Doeschate during in which Essex earned their third batting point, before ten Doeschate was trapped in front for 30 by D’Oliveira.

Worcestershire used a total of seven bowlers with Barnard, D’Oliveira and Charlie Morris each finishing with three wickets.

Worcestershire should have lost a wicket to the second ball of their innings without a run on the board when Wheater failed to hold onto an edge diving to his right from Daryl Mitchell off the bowling of Jamie Porter.

The opener stayed long enough to help Jake Libby carry the total on to 32 before Cook, having changed ends and now bowling from the Hayes Close End, made a dramatic impact.

In the space of five deliveries, he picked up three wickets.

He bowled Mitchell for 16 and three balls later, had Tom Fell taken at second slip for a duck by Simon Harmer. Without addition to the score, Cook struck again when Gareth Roderick, making his debut for Worcestershire following his winter move from Gloucestershire, was snapped up by Westley at third slip for a first-ball duck.

With the light deteriorating, Cook was removed from the attack with figures of 7-3-14-3 to be replaced by Dan Lawrence with Harmer bowling at the opposite end.

However, Essex’s progress was halted with 5 overs remaining in the day when the umpires decided that the light was not sufficient for play to continue.

Jake Libby has 21 and D’Oliveira is 6 not out.

Day One Match Highlights

Day One Reaction: Tom Westley

Day One Match Report

Tom Westley launched the start of the 2021 season for defending County Champions Essex with a superb unbeaten 84 on Day One to lead the way as the home side reached the close on 207 for 3 wickets.

The Essex skipper played an accomplished innings looking comfortable throughout his stay that has so far seen him collect 12 boundaries in his innings spanning 4 and a quarter hours and 210 deliveries.

In a pre-season interview, the 32-year-old had stated a personal wish to score more runs this season after a poor year with the bat in 2020 when he averaged just 17.20 in scoring 171 runs in 11 innings that included 51 in the Bob Willis Trophy Final against Somerset.

But after a winter spent working on his game plans, he made nonsense of those 2020 statistics showing all the talents and effectiveness that had earned him 5 England caps in 2017.

The bitterly cold weather – umpire Neil Mallendar wore woolly gloves throughout the day – offered a complete contrast to conditions experienced by Dan Lawrence in his previous first-class match when the batsman made such a favourable impression scoring a half-century out of 135 as England tumbled to an innings defeat in the Third Test against India in the heat of Ahmedabad back in early March.

The right-hander looked in good form though striking the ball sweetly in an assured manner and joining Westley in a partnership worth 73 for the third wicket until, having contributed 46, he was adjudged leg before wicket against Ed Barnard.

Essex, who won the toss, made a steady start with Nick Browne and Alastair Cook posting 30 in 57 minutes before Cook (15) went half-forward to a ball from Charlie Morris and was leg before.

Browne played with increasing fluidity until two balls after finding the boundary with a fine cover drive off Barnard, he attempted to repeat the shot and was well caught low down at extra cover by Jake Libby to give Barnard his first of two wickets.

That left the hosts 57 for 2 but Lawrence joined Westley to double the score.

Their half-century partnership spanned 115 balls but with the total having progressed to 130, Lawrence departed to be replaced by Paul Walter.

Westley arrived at his fifty from 129 balls with 8 boundaries and continued to master the bowling playing particularly well off his legs whilst selective in driving on both sides of the wicket.

By tea, the total had moved onto 167 for 3 and soon afterwards, Westley and Walter completed a 98 balls half-century with Westley in the aggressive role accounting for 35 of the runs with Walter his dependable ally with 11.

The pair took Essex to their first batting point of the season but shortly afterwards, at 5:10pm, bad light stopped play with Essex 206 for 3.

The players emerged again 50 minutes later but after just seven balls and one run added thanks to a wide, the umpires decided that the light had deteriorated and play was called off for the day with almost 15 overs lost from the day’s allocation.

Essex named pace bowler Ben Allison in their starting line-up. It is the former Academy player’s first Championship appearance for the county although the 21-year-old right-arm fast-medium bowler did make one appearance for Gloucestershire in 2019 when on loan from his parent Club.