Match Report: Essex v Hampshire


Essex v Hampshire

LV= Insurance County Championship
The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford
Tuesday 19 – 22 September 2023, 10:30am start


Team News:

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

Hampshire: Fletcha Middleton, Toby Albert, Nick Gubbins (c), James Vince, Tom Prest, Liam Dawson, Ben Brown (wk), Keith Barker, Felix Organ, Kyle Abbott, Mohammad Abbas.

Match Details:

Umpires: Nigel Llong & Steve O’Shaughnessy
Match Referee: Simon Hinks
Toss: Essex won the toss and elected to bat
Result: Hampshire won by 3 wickets

Scorecard: View Here

Day Four Highlights:

Day Four Reaction: Anthony McGrath

Day Four Report:

Liam Dawson put a cherry on top of his magnificent season with a sublime 119 to give Hampshire victory over Essex, and hand Surrey a significant advantage in the LV=Insurance County Championship title race.

Dawson arrived at the crease at 32 for four, having been set 267 in 59 overs, and with best mate James Vince put on 184 for the fifth wicket – a record for Hampshire for the wicket against Essex.

Dawson struck his third century of the season, his most in a season, and Vince totted up 89 as Hampshire won at the Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford, for just the fourth time since 1974.

Essex will go into their final fixture against bottom side Northamptonshire, at Wantage Road next week, with a 20-point deficit to leaders Surrey – who face Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.

Tom Westley’s side had won their last six matches, having only won one of their first six games of the season, but could only watch as Dawson gave them an uphill climb in the final week.

Essex knocked off the last two Hampshire wickets within five overs as they also picked up what could be a crucial third bowling point.

Kyle Abbott chopped Sam Cook onto his own stumps and Tom Prest fell for 108 when he was stumped – Harmer claiming six for 149.

Essex had a 113 first innings lead and had the dilemma of how many runs and how long they’d need to bowl out Hampshire.

Their first funky decision didn’t pay any dividends as the innately attacking Adam Rossington was promoted to open and lasted just three balls.

Alastair Cook, attempted to score quickly but couldn’t find any timing. Eventually he put out his misery when a swish caught an edge behind.

Dan Lawrence, on what is definitely his last home game as an Essex player before he joins Surrey, got things moving with Westley as the duo quickly put on 83 – forced largely to run between the wicket due to Hampshire’s defensive fields cutting off boundary options.

Westley fell to the final before lunch, plinking to long on for 45, while Lawrence moved past his 38th half-century for his boyhood county.

The spell after the interval was a blur of swinging bats, players alternating back and forward from the pavilion. In a 21 balls spell, Essex only managed 20 runs but lost five wickets.

Paul Walter was bowled by Liam Dawson the ball after smacking a huge six, Lawrence slogged straight up and was brilliantly held by wicketkeeper Ben Brown and Matt Critchley perished at long on.

Umesh Yadav went six, six, hole out to long on before the declaration came the ball after Harmer slapped to deep cover.

It ultimately meant Hampshire were set 267 runs to win in a minimum of 59 overs, and without the need of collusion or bartering.

A classic Essex fourth-innings rampage looked in store when Toby Albert was sensationally caught behind down the legside by Rossington.

Harmer entered the attack in the fifth over and had three wickets by the end of the 11th over as Hampshire flopped to 32 for three.

Fletcha Middleton top-edged a sweep, Nick Gubbins had a leading-edge loop to short extra cover, and having survived a dropped catch the ball before, Prest poked to short leg.

The next 39 overs didn’t go to plan for the hosts. Vince and Dawson colonised the crease, initially getting the run-rate towards what was required – typified by Vince reaching his fifty in 45 balls -before stopping taking risks when the win looked out of sight.

There were chances though. Vince was put down on 16 by Matt Critchley and Dawson dribbled one through Alastair Cook’s hands.

But otherwise, it was two experienced heads occupying the crease and picking the bad balls to put away and manipulating the field.

The stand reached 184 before Vince finally misjudged a big shot and was caught at cover.

But it barely deterred Dawson, he had a catch not carry to square leg on 97 before reaching his third ton of the season with a guide to the third boundary.

Dawson chipped to short cover with 20 still required from 22 balls, but Ben Brown and Keith Barker maintained the momentum to give Hampshire a memorable victory with five balls to spare.

Day Three Reaction: Tom Westley

Day Three Highlights:

Day Three Match Report:

Tom Prest brilliantly scored his maiden LV= Insurance County Championship century to frustrate title hopefuls Essex – despite Simon Harmer’s 35th first-class five-wicket haul for the county.

Former England under 19 skipper Prest masterfully scored an unbeaten 102 to guide Hampshire past the follow-on score with vital contributions from Toby Albert, Fletcha Middleton, James Vince and Keith Barker.

South African Harmer claimed five for 143 as he churned away from the River End for 36 overs but Hampshire ended the day on 322 for eight – and 125 runs adrift – with a potential to set up a result on the final day.

Albert and Middleton had seen out seven overs the previous evening and combined on the third morning with a mix of patience and skill to clear the new ball with little problems.

Middleton survived a missed stumping, the first of a few missteps from Essex, on 17 as the 21-year-old openers put on 68.

But the arrival of Paul Walter’s tall left-arm pace to the attack immediately saw the back of Albert, when he pinned him lbw with an in-swinging yorker.

Nick Gubbins pushed to second slip to give Harmer his first before the off-spinner bowled a slog sweeping Middleton for 47.

Vince had arrived with intent to counter and smashed 46 in 45 balls – capped by hitting Matt Critchley back over his head for six.

He and fellow experienced middle-order batter Liam Dawson fell in consecutive overs playing aggressive shots – Vince skying a top edge to long off, while Dawson slogged a sweep from well outside off stump to square leg.

Essex’s title hopes looked bright with Hampshire 141 for five and in a prime follow-on position, and Surrey collapsing at the Kia Oval against Northamptonshire.

But Prest flipped the script by partnering up with the lower-middle order to defy Harmer and bat Hampshire towards a position of strength.

Prest has long been talked about in the same breath as Vince, with his powerful shot-making and wonderful ability to find boundaries.

His red ball form, in his first six outings, had been disappointing, especially compared to his sparkling white-ball record – which included two List A centuries and four Vitality Blast fifties.

Here, he scored 36 of his 69-ball half-century in boundaries with plenty of resilience shown in a dodgy situation for his team.

Prest put on 54 with the uneasy Brown – who survived a simple catch at square leg when on one before he was caught off the bat-pad for Harmer’s fourth.

Prest was dropped by Harmer at second slip the ball after bringing up his first Championship fifty but was otherwise chanceless, amid turn and invariable bounce from Harmer.

Barker, who was so close to winning this fixture last season, utilised his well-honed reverse sweep and dipped into his experience to join forces with his young seventh wicket partner – the pair putting on 89 together.

Barker fell trying to pull Sam Cook before Felix Organ gave Harmer his fifth with a misjudged slog sweep.

Kyle Abbott now stewarded Prest to make sure Hampshire averted the follow-on – which he managed with a pair of sixes in the 77th over. Prest then reached three figures in 119 balls after the second new ball had been taken.

Bad light took the players off just before 16:30 before rain kyboshed any hope of any more play – as those who stayed in the ground were taunted with Surrey’s improving situation being played on the scoreboard.

Day Two Match Highlights:

Day Two Match Report:

Matt Critchley fell one run short of his third LV= Insurance County Championship of the season before title-contenders Essex declared on a hefty 447 against Hampshire.

Critchley had been strolling towards three figures and 1,000 runs for the season but stuttered on 99 before he slapped to short extra cover.

Simon Harmer and Umesh Yadav, the latter in electrifying style, struck half-centuries as Essex continued to tot up the runs before a lunchtime declaration, before Hampshire scored 10 without loss in seven overs.

Essex accrued three batting points in their quest to challenge Surrey for the title – which cancelled out the three bowling points Surrey picked up against Northamptonshire. The points difference since 18.

Having resumed on 310 for six, and just eight overs into the second new ball, Essex had the 350-run bonus point in their sights.

Critchley was more watchful than he had been during his exciting 177-run partnership with centurion Adam Rossington.

He went from 83 in 123 balls to 99 in 162 balls before getting stuck. He batted out a maiden from Liam Dawson – which included him getting dropped off a caught and bowled.

Three more dots off Kyle Abbott followed as he struggled to find a gap in the field, before attempted to hit Dawson over the covers and was caught by Nick Gubbins at short extra cover.

Critchley had never had the misfortune of falling for 99 before, while he now has 969 runs for the season.

His departure sparked an up-turn in the tempo, as Harmer sparked into life and Yadav took a fancy to Dawson and fellow spinner Felix Organ.

They scored 77 runs in seven and a half overs before the declaration came – their 70 stand coming in 69 balls.

Harmer dominated his boundary hitting by rocking onto the backfoot and cutting behind point, although also pinged Dawson over long on after coming down the track.

The South African’s half-century came in 76 balls as he moved past 500 runs in a profitable season from the lower-middle order.

Yadav’s 51 off 45 was breathtaking. The Indian swung hard and far in his four sixes, with his three fours not coming from precision play.

Harmer and Yadav were both caught at long on going for a big shot, with the latter’s bringing the end of the innings and lunch.

Sam Cook sent down three maidens in response, with Harmer’s sole over also runless.

Toby Albert and Fletcha Middleton’s 10 runs all came off Jamie Porter before bad light took the two teams off.

The forecast rain then battered the Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford and saw play called off just before 16:30.

Day One Highlights:

Day One Match Report:

Adam Rossington ended his horror season with a century as Essex commanded day one of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Hampshire and boosted their title bid.

Wicketkeeper Rossington came into the match having only scored 188 runs in a season ramshackle by injury and poor form but pushed through the gears to reach 104 – his best for Essex.

Matt Critchley added a ninth Championship fifty to his impressive season after Tom Westley reached 1,000 runs for the campaign on his way to his own half-century.

Essex ended the day on 310 for six, Critchley still going strong on 83 after his 177-run stand with Rossington.

Essex began this penultimate round of fixtures 18 points behind leaders Surrey, and the final challenger to the London side’s hunt of back-to-back titles. They started by winning the toss and electing to bat first.

Third placed Hampshire have a strong role in determining the location of the Championship as they face Surrey in the final round, after potentially making a decisive mark on Essex’s ambitions.

Nick Browne dangled his bat outside off stump to nick behind as Essex slumped to 18 for two, but Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence combined to improve the hosts’ position.

Westley needed 15 runs to reach 1,000 first-class runs this season, something he had only achieved once before – in 2016, when he Ryan ten Doeschate and Browne also piled up four figures. That was the last time at Essex player had achieved the feat.

In fact, only three Essex players – Stuart Law and Paul Grayson in 2001 and Andy Flower in 2003 – have ever scored 1,000 runs in Division One since the Championship splitting into two in 2000.

Westley joined the trio with a flick into the leg side with his 25th delivery.

He ticked along nicely, as he has throughout the season, unleashing the odd straight drive or trademarked flick off the pads on his way to his seventh half-century of the season.

He didn’t score another run as he drove Kyle Abbott to third slip. It ended a 64-run stand with Lawrence – who is definitely making his last home Chelmsford appearance ahead of his move to Surrey.

Lawrence fell three overs later to Liam Dawson, having struck back-to-back boundaries, edged to first slip, with the left-arm spinner also picking up the skittish Paul Walter lbw to leave Essex 132 for five.

The demise was short-lived as Critchley found his flow quickly, reaching his half-century in 70 balls.

It wasn’t a boundary-a-thon though. He only scored to fours and a sliced six down the ground off Dawson, with 28 milking singles controlling his scoring.

Critchley, Rossington and Walter had all been awarded their Essex county caps at lunchtime. Like Critchley, Rossington celebrated with 50 – his first of a frustrating season.

It came in 83 balls and was brought up with a six over long on – which also moved his alliance with Critchley past 100.

He raced past Critchley’s scoring with his second fifty coming in 56 balls to bring up his second ton for Essex, since moving from Northamptonshire at the beginning of last summer.

Rossington’s assault ended on 104 as he attempted to yahoo-one over midwicket and was caught behind, but Essex cruised to the close – which came to an early due to bad light, having earlier been on and off for rain.