County Championship So Far: Part 1


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Essex kicked off their season with a short trip to Lord’s to face newly-promoted Middlesex, and if McGrath was looking for an early marker to be laid down, his side delivered one in professional fashion.


Dan Lawrence made light of the early-season conditions to hit 105 in the Eagles’ first innings as Matt Critchley also chipped in with 55, before Jamie Porter returned 6/35, his best figures in five years, to skittle the hosts.

Possessing a lead of 96, Essex then put themselves virtually out of sight thanks to a further 53 from Critchley, and once Porter and Sam Cook had shared six wickets between them, a season-opening victory was in the bag.

Middlesex result

Next up was a home tie against Lancashire, with the game dripping in narratives even before it had begun as England’s all-time top Test wicket-taker Jimmy Anderson lined up against run-scoring counterpart Alastair Cook.

With both sides possessing star power, the game was even at halfway, as Sam Cook picked up 5/42 to outshine Anderson’s 4/70, with Critchley’s 78 helping to edge Essex into a small first-innings lead.


In their rain-affected second dig, the Red Rose did pull off the rare feat of putting Essex up against it at Chelmsford, despite the toil of Porter, Simon Harmer, and Doug Bracewell, who split six wickets between them.

The Eagles fought to the end, though, refusing to allow the visitors to drive home their advantage by batting out the 59 overs that remained on the final day, ensuring a stalemate.

Lancashire result

Essex’s final assignment in April took them over the Dartford Crossing and to Canterbury, where rivals Kent lay in wait for the season’s first Battle of the Bridge, though persistent rain meant each side could only bat once.


Nick Browne and Tom Westley did take advantage of the time in the middle that was permitted, racking up 159 and 148, respectively, in a stand of 265 for the second wicket, while Michael Pepper also posted a run-a-ball 52.

Harmer then kept Kent reasonably honest with a haul of 4/141 in the face of 170 from England opener Zak Crawley, though with the final day completely washed out, a draw was inevitable.

Despite the disappointment in Kent of being unable to force a result after putting up maximum batting points, the Eagles still concluded April unbeaten.

Skipper Westley led the way in the run-scoring department, with Critchley and Browne close behind, while Porter confirmed his fine month by topping the wicket-taking charts ahead of Harmer and new-ball partner Cook.

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