Match Report: Essex v Middlesex


Essex v Middlesex

LV= Insurance County Championship
The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford
Monday 04 – 07 September 2023, 11am start


Team News:

Essex: Nick Browne, Alastair Cook, Tom Westley, Dan Lawrence, Matt Critchley, Paul Walter, Adam Rossington (wk), Simon Harmer, Umesh Yadav, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter.

Middlesex: Mark Stoneman, Sam Robson, Joe Cracknell, Jack Davies, Max Holden, Ryan Higgins, John Simpson (wk), Josh de Caires, Luke Hollman, Toby Roland-Jones, Ethan Bamber.

Match Details:

Umpires: Ian Blackwell & Russell Warren
Match Referee: Jason Swift
Toss: Essex won the toss and elected to bat
Result: Essex won by 297 runs

Scorecard: View Here

Day Three Highlights:

Day Three Reaction: Matt Critchley

Day Three Match Report:

Essex overseas pair Simon Harmer and Umesh Yadav teamed up to share eight wickets and bowl Essex to their sixth successive win in the LV= Insurance County Championship while putting pressure on top-of-the-table Surrey.

South African off-spinner Harmer returned figures of five for 43 to pass 50 wickets for the sixth time in seven English seasons as Middlesex were beaten by 297 runs. Indian debutant Yadav, meanwhile, opened his Essex account by steaming in from the Hayes Close End and taking three wickets in a devastating eight-over spell either side of tea.

Set a nominal 445 in a possible four-and-a-half sessions, relegation-threatened Middlesex collapsed to 55-5 before sinking to 147 all out. It left Essex 18 points adrift of Surrey with two games to play.

Sir Alastair Cook had laid the foundations for Essex’s 319-7 with a phlegmatic 84 from 178 balls before Matt Critchley’s belligerent run-a-ball 65 hastened the declaration an hour after lunch. Middlesex off-spinner Josh de Caires added two second-innings wickets to post the first 10-wicket match haul of his embryonic career at a personal cost of 190.

When Middlesex started their forlorn chase, Simon Harmer made immediate inroads as Sam Robson turned the off-spinner’s second ball to Dan Lawrence who took a spectacular, full-length diving catch at leg slip. A second wicket followed quickly when Joe Cracknell played back and was lbw.

Enter Yadav. He had been unable to take a wicket in the first innings but his pace soon had Middlesex on the skids. Jack Davies played at one that moved away to end up in first slip’s hands and Mark Stoneman’s 47-ball six was ended when he diverted another to third slip. Middlesex were 42-4 at tea.

Max Holden lasted four overs after the interval before he became Yadav’s third wicket – and 350th in first-class cricket – when the left-hander dangled his bat and was caught behind.

John Simpson and Ryan Higgins stalled Essex for 19 overs while eking out 42 runs. However, when Critchley switched ends, he had Simpson trying unsuccessfully to fend off a turning ball and was lbw.

Harmer’s return after a brief break brought instant reward as with his third ball he had Luke Hollman snaffled by Nick Browne at silly mid-off. Middlesex were 113-7 which became 115-8 when de Caires fell to the same catcher-bowler combination.

With eight wickets down, and the light fading on another sun-baked day, Essex claimed the extra half-an-hour. And in the sixth additional over Critchley bowled Ryan Higgins to end his two-hour vigil for 21 from 96 balls.

In a frantic climax, with seven minutes remaining, Toby Roland-Jones flicked a long hop from Harmer against Browne at bat-pad from where it ricocheted to Adam Rossington.

It had been more serene earlier in the day. Cook and Westley took Essex’s advantage past 300 before their second-wicket partnership of 114 was ended when Westley swished over a ball from Ethan Bamber and was lbw for 47.

The pair were circumspect, taking 130 balls to put on the first fifty of their stand, but speeding up noticeably with just another 69 balls required for the seocn fifty.

Cook departed three overs after his captain, rocking on to the backfoot in an attempt to execute a trademark punch past point only to nick behind and become occasional leg-spinner Robson a first wicket of the season to mark his 200th first-class appearance.

The tempo increased post-lunch with Critchley reserve-sweeping four off de Caires that brought up the fifty partnership with Lawrence from 49 balls.

After his eight wickets in the first innings, de Caires had to wait 25 overs for his ninth of the match. Lawrence, having scored a rapid 26, bounced down the wicket and lofted to deep extra cover.

The 21-year-old off-spinner claimed his milestone 10th victim when Paul Walter followed Lawrence’s ill-advised heave and holed out in the deep.

A lofted straight drive from Critchley landed just inside the rope off Hollman, but next ball did clear the boundary to complete his eighth score of fifty or more this season.

Adam Rossington perished reverse-sweeping Robson, who was then carted for 18 in an over as Harmer found the short boundary with four, four, six off successive balls.

Critchley was dropped on 63 by Holden at deep midwicket off Higgins but next ball stepped out of his crease in attempting another mighty blow and was stumped. The declaration followed shortly afterwards.

Day Two Reaction: Jamie Porter

Day Two Match Report:

Jamie Porter sliced through the Middlesex batting for his third five-wicket haul in successive innings to pass fifty first-class wickets for the sixth season in his career, the first since 2019.

The 30-year-old seamer, bowling with renewed vigour this summer after struggling with injuries and consequent loss of form in recent years, finished with six for 34, and 53 wickets for the campaign, as Middlesex were bowled out for 179.

That left the relegation-threatened visitors trailing by 125 runs on first innings, which was extended to 229 at close of day two with Sir Alastair Cook’s unbeaten 44 leading Essex to 104-1.

Off-spinner Josh de Caires had wrapped up the Essex first innings with his eighth ball of the morning to walk off with the match ball and career-best figures of eight for 106. Essex added just one run to their overnight total, reaching 304, before Sam Cook edged to slip.

That was the last wicket to fall to spin until the 51st over of Middlesex’s innings – when Simon Harmer tempted Toby Roland-Jones to try and hit him out of the ground – by which time the Essex seamers had shared the first eight wickets on a lively, baked pitch. Cook chipped in with three of his own for 43.

However, with LV= Insurance County Championship leaders Surrey completing their innings victory over Warwickshire earlier in the day, it left Essex 33 points adrift in second place, albeit with the result of this game to be added on.

Porter struck in only his second over, a double-wicket maiden, removing Mark Stoneman to a loose drive to cover point followed by Joe Cracknell to a catch low down at second slip. Wicket No50 arrived two overs later when Sam Robson’s off-stump was sent cartwheeling as he played down the wrong line.

Cook then had Jack Davies lbw and Middlesex were 25-4 with only eight overs gone.

Middlesex shrank into survival mode for a spell as Simon Harmer and Umesh Yadav had John Simpson and Max Holden playing and missing at contrasting pace. The pair went 34 balls without scoring, and Harmer sent down 29 deliveries without conceding a run before Simpson swept him to the boundary.

It was not until Porter returned for a second spell that the fifth-wicket pair were parted after 17 overs, 24 runs and nearly an hour, Simpson remaining anchored on his crease when rapped on the pad.

Holden put on 41 in 10 overs with Ryan Higgins either side of lunch until he got a leading edge that popped up back into Porter’s hands.

Luke Hollman swept Harmer for six in a 38-run stand with Higgins before he became the second lbw victim for Cook. He had a third wicket when Higgins was beaten for pace to end his swashbuckling 44 from 54 balls.

De Caires and Roland-Jones steered Middlesex past the follow-on mark, but the captain departed when ending the sequence of seamers’ wickets by sweeping Harmer into the hands of deep midwicket. Porter had Ethan Bamber lbw to leave the ubiquitous de Caires unbeaten on 29 including six fours.

De Caires, who sent down 39 overs first time round, opened from the River End for a dozen overs without finding the same assistance from the wicket. Nick Browne and Alastair Cook were untroubled while putting on 64 for the first innings before Browne gloved behind one that lifted from Roland-Jones.

Day One Highlights:

Day One Reaction: Nick Browne

Day One Match Report:

Josh de Caires’ career-best 7/105 cast a dark cloud over Essex hopes of chasing down Surrey’s burgeoning lead at the head of the LV= Insurance County Championship.

While Essex struggled to collect an underwhelming two batting point at Chelmsford, defending champions Surrey piled up six bonus points at the Oval in making Warwickshire follow-on to extend their advantage at present to 21 points.

The off-spinning de Caires, 21-year-old son of Michael Atherton, might have returned even more spectacular figures, following on closely from his seven for 144 against Hampshire in June, but Ryan Higgins spilled Dan Lawrence at slip and Mark Stoneman floored a chance at short midwicket that reprieved Adam Rossington, neither of which proved particularly costly.

Essex had looked in no trouble on a pitch that baked under a hot sun, with Nick Browne (59) and Sir Alastair Cook (58) putting on 122 for their first century opening stand of the season. However, de Caires then took centre stage, helping reduce Essex initially to 169-5 inside 16 overs en route to 303-9 at the close.

Middlesex’s plight in the relegation mire was not helped by the news in the morning that the Indian off-spinner Jayant Yadav, signed initially for the last four Championship games, was stranded in Delhi because his visa documentation had not been completed in time at the British Embassy.

Instead, the ball was thrown to de Caires from the ninth over and he bowled 38 overs from the River End with only a couple of breathers.

After winning the toss, Cook and Browne batted serenely in the fierce sunshine and without offering up a chance until de Caires let out a hopeful, though forlorn, shout to the last ball before lunch for lbw against Cook.

That turned out merely to herald a clatter of wickets. The young bowler was eventually rewarded with the prized scalp of Cook when the left-hander stuck his right leg down the wicket and was rapped on the pad to depart for 58 from 127 balls.

Cook had been first to fifty, reached from 89 balls with nine fours, followed by Browne from one more ball but one boundary fewer.

Before his own demise, the former England captain had lost Browne when a delivery from de Caires was flicked into the hands of short leg after a 108-ball 59.

De Caires had his third wicket in five post-lunch overs when he got a delivery to turn from outside off-stump, bamboozling Tom Westley and taking the middle-and-off bail.

Lawrence did not stay long before wafting at one down legside from Ethan Bamber, and Paul Walter withdrew his bat as one from de Caires went straight on and clipped off-stump.

However, a sixth-wicket stand of 66 in 18 overs between Matt Critchley and Rossington repaired the damage before Rossington picked out Hollman on the long-leg boundary to provide de Caires with a fifth wicket. Critchley went in the next over for 36, lbw to Toby Roland-Jones.

Essex overseas addition, Indian fast bowler Umesh Yadav, marked his debut by striking de Caires for 14 runs from the first three balls of his 34th over but perished trying to land a second six over long leg.

When he returned after the new ball had been taken, de Caires had Simon Harmer caught heaving to short extra cover.