Match Report: Essex v Northants


Essex v Northamptonshire

LV= Insurance County Championship
The Cloud County Ground, Thursday 28 – Sunday 01 May


Team News:

Essex: Nick Browne, Alastair Cook, Tom Westley (c), Paul Walter, Matt Critchley, Feroze Khushi, Adam Wheater (wk), Simon Harmer, Shane Snater, Mark Steketee, Sam Cook.

Northamptonshire: Ricardo Vasconcelos (c), Will Young, Emilio Gay, Saif Zaib, Rob Keogh, Luke Procter, Lewis McManus (wk), Tom Taylor, Matthew Kelly, Gareth Berg, Ben Sanderson

Match Details:

Umpires: Nigel Llong & Tom Lungley
Match Referee: Stephen Davis
Toss: Essex, who elected to bowl
Result: Match Drawn

Scorecard: View Here

Day Four Highlights:

Day Four Reaction: Paul Walter

“The main thing for us going into the last day was to save the game. It was not ideal for us but after the position we found ourselves in at the end of Day Two, we would obviously take the draw.

“I think a lot of credit for our fightback has to go to our lower-order batting especially Shane Snater on Day Three morning. It flipped the momentum in our favour and from there we managed to really buckle down and bat a long period of time to save the game.

“We knew it was a bit of a new-ball wicket but when the ball did get soft, it was going to be a lot easier to bat. So it was just a matter today to try and grind out as long as possible and work a partnership with your mate in the middle and see where it would take us.

“I would like to have been not out at the end and see the lads home, but that’s cricket and we got the draw in the end. We are all aware that, as a collective, we need to score more runs in the first innings.”

Day Four Match Report:

Paul Walter fell agonisingly seven runs shy of a maiden first-class century, and three runs short of his career-best, though his mercurial 93 ensured Essex held on to save the game against Northamptonshire.

The tall left-hander anchored Essex’s second innings for five and a half hours before he was undone by a delivery from Saif Zaib that spun past his forward defensive.

But his good work was carried on by Adam Wheater who used up 174 balls of the day’s allocation while scoring just 33 runs. In the end, Wheater was still there to accept the handshake of Northampton captain Ricardo Vasconcelos on the draw just after five o’clock.

Off-spinner Rob Keogh wheeled away relentlessly for 33 overs to claim 4-51, supported by seamer Tom Taylor who charged in to return figures of 3-62. But their joint efforts were in vain.

Northamptonshire had enforced the follow-on at lunch-time on day three after racking up a 197-run lead on first innings. But they were unable to make the inroads they were hoping for on the final morning and they enjoyed only sporadic success thereafter.

With Walter leading the rearguard action, Essex lost just two wickets before lunch while moving into a position where Northamptonshire would have needed to bat again.

Essex batted out the final five sessions of the match, showing greatly improved application among their middle-order than in the first innings when they collapsed to 83-8. They were rescued then by a Shane Snater-inspired tail-end insurgence that took their total to 193 in reply to Northamptonshire’s 390.

The overnight pair of Critchley and Walter reached the century milestone for the fourth wicket without undue alarm. Immediately, though, Critchley chased a wide delivery from Tom Taylor and spooned to short mid-off for 47.

Walter, whose top score remains his 96 against Gloucestershire last summer, was particularly strong off his legs. One flick to the long-leg boundary off Gareth Berg took Essex into the black for the first time in the game, 82 overs into their second innings.

Feroze Khushi joined Walter in a free-scoring, 69-run stand that was ended when a delivery from Taylor leapt off a length and Khushi was caught behind for 30.

When Walter departed after a 246-ball stay as the sixth man down, Essex’s lead was just 67 with a minimum of 54 overs remaining. But Wheater dug in doggedly, batting all the way through the afternoon session while facing 100 balls and adding just 16 to his personal account.

But he lost Simon Harmer after 16 overs’ joint resistance when the South African all-rounder steered Keogh into first slip’s hands. Keogh claimed a third wicket when Snater swept injudiciously to Zaib stationed just inside the midwicket boundary. The lead had now become 107 with 27 possible overs left.

With six men around the bat, Mark Steketee thumped Keogh back for two boundaries but was then beaten outside his attempted defensive fend-off by the off-spinner. It just remained for Wheater and Sam Cook to see out three overs for one run before curtains were drawn.

Day Three Highlights:

Day Three Reaction: Shane Snater

Day Three Match Report:

Paul Walter and Matt Critchley batted determinedly through the final session of the day to frustrate Northamptonshire’s hopes of claiming a morale-boosting victory at Chelmsford.

The fourth-wicket pair came together at 58-3 shortly before tea and were still there at stumps having put on 91 valuable runs as Essex fought back in the LV= Insurance County Championship match.

Essex, eventually dismissed in their first innings for 193, with Ben Sanderson finishing with 4-32, were asked to follow-on by Northamptonshire. By the close on day three they were 149-3, requiring another 48 to make the visitors bat again. Walter was 40 not out, Critchley 44.

That Essex are still in the game is largely down to Shane Snater, who almost single-handedly dragged Essex back into the game with a swashbuckling unbeaten 79. When he eventually ran out of partners, Essex were asked to go straight back in again, 197 runs in arrears.

Snater dominated stands of 69 for the ninth wicket with Mark Steketee and 41 for the last with Sam Cook. Importantly for Essex, his stoic resolution took a session out of the equation which greatened Essex’s chances of getting something out of the game.

The Dutch international shone with a series of hooks, pulls and drives that were as effortless as they were exquisite. He accounted for the majority of the 98 runs scored for the loss of the last two wickets in an entertaining morning session.

When Snater dabbed down to the vacant third-man boundary for the ninth of his ten fours, it carried him not only from 47 to 51 but to both his highest score for Essex and his highest in first-class cricket.

Northamptonshire’s tactics seemed a little awry on a pitch that returned to its earlier placid state, and it was 70 minutes before front-line bowler Gareth Berg was finally introduced. To underline what his absence might have missed, with his fourth ball he had Steketee bowled while attempting a pull.

Still, Snater motored on regardless, capping his 94-ball knock with a towering straight six off Rob Keogh. His fun was curtailed, though, when Cook edged the off-spinner on the dot of lunch and was snaffled at slip.

Without a moment’s hesitation Essex were asked to bat again. They were briefly in trouble losing three wickets in 14 overs. Alastair Cook went for 19, caught at first slip off Tom Taylor, who had just been hit for three backfoot, off-side boundaries in an over by the former England captain.

Tom Westley was next to go, pinned on his crease by Luke Procter, before Nick Browne drove at Keogh and became the latest victim to a slip catch.

Browne’s wicket went down in the midst of a sequence of 38 dot balls as Essex dug in as they fought to save the game. There was another spell of five successive maidens that epitomised the Essex approach as Walter and Critchley battled through the evening session.

Day Two Highlights:

Day Two Reaction: Anthony McGrath

“It’s been a very bad day. We couldn’t get that breakthrough this morning. We’d bowled beautifully on that first day when I think there were 43 play and misses but we just couldn’t get the edges.

“Having bowled 90 odd overs yesterday, you could see that the bowlers were a little bit tired this morning. But fair play to the Northamptonshire, they batted well.

“Then with the bat, we lost too many soft wickets. They bowled nicely but we just couldn’t sustain that pressure like last week at Warwickshire.

“It’s disappointing but we’ve still got 12 wickets left so we are going to have to scrap and scrap hard.”

Day Two Match Report:

Ben Sanderson ran through the Essex batting line-up after a Luke Proctor century as Northants took control on Day Two.

The pace bowler took his season’s tally to 15 in five LV= Insurance County Championship innings as he found the edges of a succession of bats that Essex reduced to 55-5, then 75-7 and finally 95-8 at the close in reply to Northamptonshire’s 390.

Earlier in the day, Northamptonshire were able to eke out a further 157 runs to their overnight score in 45 overs, courtesy of a ninth-wicket partnership of 105 between Procter and Gareth Berg.

Procter took exactly six hours to carefully compile his 113, only the fifth century of his 12-year first-class career. In contrast, Berg included three sixes in a swashbuckling 75 that lasted just 132 balls.

Nick Browne nicked Sanderson to second slip early in Essex’s first-innings, leaving the home side on 12-1. Westley followed on the stroke of tea when he got a leading edge to hand Will Young a second catch, this time off Tom Taylor’s bowling.

Sanderson had his second after a spell of tight bowling when Cook was caught behind for six.

Young completed a hat-trick of catches, swooping after Emilio Gay at third slip parried Critchley’s edge in his direction. And Gay picked up a catch of his own to send back Paul Walter for two to give Sanderson wicket number four.

Adam Wheater counter-attacked with three fours in an over from Matt Kelly, but the Australian seamer produced a beautiful ball that jagged back and removed Wheater’s middle-stump after the batter offered no shot.

Simon Harmer also shouldered arms to Kelly and was lbw for nought. Feroze Khushi dug in and soaked up 36 balls before he got off the mark, but after reaching nine he was caught behind off the bowling of Luke Proctor.

Essex prised out Matt Kelly early in the day with the ball, before Proctor and Berg produced stiff resistance to compile a century stand for the ninth wicket.

Kelly had tried to inject some aggression into his innings, but only succeeded in pulling to short midwicket to give Shane Snater a third wicket in eventual figures of 3-56.

Berg refused to be tied down and hit Critchley over midwicket for six. He later twice threatened the scorers’ box when lofting the same bowler straight for further maximum.

Procter, who lunched on 99 after adding just 39 to his total in the morning session, duly passed three-figures post-break when he turned Mark Steketee backward of square for two. He had faced 256 balls to that point.

However, in an uncharacteristic moment of carelessness, the left-hander attempted to hit Critchley out of the park for what would have been just the 11th boundary of his innings, only to pick out Paul Walter at short midwicket.

Berg finally went after a mini-flurry of hitting when he found Westley on the long-on boundary to give Critchley figures of 3-81.

Day One Match Highlights:

Day One Match Reaction: Sam Cook

Day One Match Report:

The Essex bowlers battled hard against Northamptonshire on Day One to restrict the visitors to 233-7 at Stumps.

Opener Will Young particularly impressed for the visitors, with the New Zealander following up his match-saving 96 against Yorkshire last week with a painstaking 63 before Northants lost a clutch of late wickets.

Young’s 100-run partnership for the second wicket with Emilio Gay set the tone for a day of frustration for the Essex attack.

After Young became the second of Sam Cook’s two victims, the cudgels were taken up by Luke Procter, around whom Northants’ middle-order resistance was built. The left-hander will resume this morning on 60 from 164 balls.

Essex’s decision to put Northants in appeared to have been vindicated immediately when Ricardo Vasconcelos edged Cook’s third ball into the slip cordon.

Thereafter, the Essex bowlers toiled on a benign strip that offered little before they finally parted Gay and Young, who dug in for a workmanlike 38-over partnership.

It was a far cry from Northants’ visit to Chelmsford last September that resulted in the shortest match of the modern four-day era: students of the unusual will remember that it finished half an hour into Day Two.

This time, though, the visitors passed the 45 that constituted their second-innings total then inside 20 painstaking overs; the 81 of their 2021 first innings was overtaken with the first ball after Lunch in an over where Young hit Shane Snater for three fours from alternate deliveries.

Cook kept the pair in check in a 7 over opening spell in which the seamer conceded just 8 runs, the only dent coming when Gay pulled him with supreme nonchalance to the boundary.

The second-wicket stand had reached three figures when it was finally broken. Snater got one to move away from the 22-year-old left-hander Gay and Sir Alastair Cook took the catch low down to his right at first slip.

Young’s three-hour, 146-ball stay ended soon after when he shouldered arms to a ball from Cook that nipped back off the seam and trapped him lbw.

Proctor and Rob Keogh put on 45 quietly and efficiently in 16 overs until the stroke of Tea when Keogh prodded tentatively at a delivery from Matt Critchley that the bowler caught tumbling forward just above his boot-straps.

Paul Walter, called in to replace loanee Adam Rossington, who is ineligible to play against his parent Club, claimed the scalp of Saif Zaib by pinning him lbw.

Lewis McManus hung around for three-quarters of an hour for 7 before he wafted at one outside off-stump from Snater and Simon Harmer pounced in front of Cook the elder at first slip to snaffle the catch.

Australian Mark Steketee was impressive with the ball, showing control and consistency to end the day with figures of 1/41 from his 22 overs.

His efforts were finally rewarded when Harmer took a sharp one-handed catch at second slip to account for Tom Taylor just before Stumps.