County Championship So Far: Part 3


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Essex kicked off their summer run of red-ball matches with a clash with Somerset at home, and Alastair Cook’s long-established talent was on full show as his century set up a crushing 196-run win.

Cook made 128 in a first innings total of 462-9 declared, with Matt Critchley also posting 121, before a Simon Harmer five-for saw Somerset bundled out for 167 and gave Essex full control at the halfway point.

It was a grip they never relinquished, as Critchley hit 52 in the second dig with Essex again declaring on 170-7 and setting Somerset a nominal 466 to win, before Harmer and Jamie Porter shared six wickets to bowl the visitors out.


A second home match in a row followed a fortnight later, as a match against Warwickshire began on a steaming hot Sunday, though it was the Bears who ended up frazzled as Essex won by nine wickets.

Tom Westley, who hit 114, and Dan Lawrence, who went even better with 152, shared a stand of 227 for the third wicket to set up another big first-innings total of 457.

The Eagles then very much won the battle of the anthropomorphic teams, bowling Warwickshire out twice in a row thanks to a ten-for from Simon Harmer, before knocking off a simple 85 fourth-innings target.


League table June



Essex truly found themselves liking being by the seaside against Lancashire in Blackpool, as they handed the Red Rose their first defeat of the season by the thrilling margin of 46 runs.

The Eagles held a healthy first-innings advantage of 137 after both sides had batted once, thanks to another ton from Tom Westley before Sam Cook picked up a haul of four.

Dan Lawrence made a sparkling 135 the second time around before some stunning striking from Doug Bracewell in the lower order, with the New Zealander making 61 off just 35, set up a monster chase for Lancashire.

Rob Jones’ hundred very nearly saw the hosts pull of a shock victory, but at the very end of day four, Bracewell produced another moment of magic to remove the centurion and continue Essex’s ascent.


The second red-ball Battle of the Bridge of the summer provided far more joy for Essex after a washout in Canterbury back in April, as the Eagles beat not just Kent by seven wickets, but the weather too.

Seam maestros Porter and Cook split six wickets to bowl Kent out for 207, before Critchley continued his purple patch with another century to give the Eagles a first-innings lead of 251.

An innings win could have been on the cards were it not for the resistance of Harry Finch and Joey Evison who hauled Kent to 280.

However, the resulting target of 30 was knocked off in just 23 deliveries as the Eagles took the points and got out before the looming rain arrived.

Essex CCC vs Kent CCC - 22-07-23 - 00594

The final task facing the Eagles before the Championship made way for the One Day Cup was a potentially daunting trip to Hampshire, but some grit, discipline, and application ensured a fifth win on the bounce.

It was very much a case of the bowlers being dominant throughout, as both sides found themselves dismissed for less than 170 in the first innings, though Essex did snatch a slender 49-run advantage.

Porter had taken five in Hampshire’s first dig, and he picked up another quintet to turn that into a ten-for as Essex set themselves 86 to win.

There may well have been some jangling nerves at 49-3, but the patience of Paul Walter and Michael Pepper, who added an unbroken 32 for the fifth wicket, saw Essex sneak over the line.

Hampshire picture

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