Match Report: Essex v Warwickshire


Essex v Warwickshire

Vitality County Championship
The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford
Friday 17 – Monday 20 May 2024, 11am start


Team News:

Essex: Dean Elgar, Feroze Khushi, Nick Browne, Tom Westley*, Jordan Cox, Matt Critchley, Michael Pepper†, Simon Harmer, Shane Snater, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter.

Warwickshire: Rob Yates, Alex Davies*, Will Rhodes, Sam Hain (concussion substitute: Chris Benjamin), Ed Barnard, Dan Mousley, Jacob Bethell, Michael Burgess†, Michael Rae, Che Simmons, Oliver Hannon-Dalby.

Match Details:

Umpires: James Middlebrook & Ben Debenham
Match Referee: Jason Swift
Toss: Warwickshire won the toss and elected to bat
Result: Essex won by four wickets

Scorecard: View Here

Day 4 Reaction: Matt Critchley

Day 4 Highlights

Day 4 Report

Jordan Cox struck a sparkling century as Essex masterfully completed a chase of 330 to record a Vitality County Championship victory over Warwickshire at The Cloud County Ground.

Having resumed on 224-4, with his stand alongside Matt Critchley worth 112, Cox went on to craft his second ton in Essex colours from 185 deliveries.

Despite the loss of two quick wickets, one of which was Cox himself for 112, the unbeaten Critchley, who made an utterly bittersweet 99, was able to steer the Eagles to victory alongside Simon Harmer.

It was a victory that was made all the more remarkable considering the fightback that had to take place to secure it, with the hosts having conceded a first-innings deficit of 235.

With six overs to bat before the second new ball could be taken, Cox and Critchley set about their task with panache, and were settled to the point that the new cherry failed to cause much discomfort.

The duo’s stand, only broken by the departure of Cox to Che Simmons after more than an hour of the morning, was ultimately worth 176, breaking a 77-year record for Essex against Warwickshire.

Michael Pepper was only able to have a small impact on proceedings before being bowled by the fierce pace of Kiwi import Michael Rae, but that only served to bring Harmer to the crease.

Taking the attack back to the Warwickshire bowlers, Critchley creamed nine fours and two sixes in his unbeaten and ultimately match-winning knock.

The winning moment was surprisingly low-key for such a momentous chase, as Harmer pulled Simmons for four behind square to hand the Eagles a priceless 18 points.

Day 3 Reaction: Tom Westley

Day 3 Highlights

Day 3 Report

An unbroken fifth-wicket century stand between Jordan Cox and Matt Critchley gave Essex the chance of pulling off a Vitality County Championship victory over Warwickshire at Chelmsford.

Set 330 to win, Essex finished day three on 224-4, requiring a further 106 runs on the final day to retain hopes of launching a serious challenge to Surrey at the top of the table.

Both players mixed aggression with caution as they pieced together a partnership worth 112 in 37 overs with Cox becoming only the third player in the match to pass fifty. He was 77 not from 144 balls at the close with Critchley on 46 from 111.

Warwickshire, who had amassed 397 in the first innings and looking for their first win of the season, were dismissed inside 38 overs for just 94 in their second. Essex spinners Critchley and Simon Harmer sharing seven wickets, including all five that fell in the morning.

Essex’s chase started with disappointment when Feroze Khushi was trapped first ball on his crease to Michael Rae.

It became worse when Che Simmons pulled off a stunning diving catch in the covers to account for Nick Browne. The batter dwelt momentarily before walking ahead of the result of the umpires’ consultation and receiving a consolation pat on the back for his honesty.

Essex consolidated either side of lunch as Elgar and Westley stood firm. Westley hooked Simmons’s short balls and defended resolutely as Rob Yates mixed up his lengths.

Elgar found a gap through the covers for the boundary that brought up only the second fifty partnership in the match – the first was ultimately worth 209 between Ed Barnard and Michael Burgess. Almost immediately, though, Simmons produced a fuller ball and Westley departed lbw for a 69-ball 18.

The introduction of Jordan Cox upped the tempo and the fourth-wicket pair put on 47 in 12 overs as Warwickshire rang the changes until Barnard found one that kept low and pinned Elgar for 60 from 85 balls.

The third half-century stand was brought up by Critchley’s lofted four off Yates. Critchley had taken time to get started but he hit full throttle when he launched Yates for six over long-on. Cox was setting the pace, though, and reached his fourth score of fifty-plus from 101 balls.

Warwickshire had opted not to enforce the follow-on despite being 235 runs ahead on first-innings. Their second innings lasted just another 75 minutes in the morning session while they added 51 runs for five wickets.

Rae’s nightwatchman duties did not extend long before he was beaten by the extravagant turn of Harmer, became unbalanced and was bowled. It was Harmer’s second wicket in five balls, separated by a night’s sleep.

Burgess, one of two Warwickshire centurions in the first innings, lasted 35 balls this time for 18 before he pulled Critchley to midwicket where Luc Benkenstein – who had only just entered the field as a substitute ahead of that ball – took a comfortable catch.

Chris Benjamin, called down from Edgbaston as concussion substitute for Sam Hain who was struck on the helmet at short leg by Jordan Cox on day two, faced seven balls before he nicked to none other than Jordan Cox at slip.

Jacob Bethell hit Critchley’s first two balls of an over for a towering straight six and an off-driven four. But he skied the third ball and Critchley had time to move to mid-off to claim the caught-and-bowled in figures of 4/24.

Harmer (3/28) wrapped up the innings when Simmons charged down the wicket and picked out Westley stationed on the long-on fence.

Day 2 Reaction: Anthony McGrath

Day 2 Highlights

Day 2 Report

Che Simmons made a stunning impact on his first-class debut by blasting a gaping hole in the Essex batting with three wickets in 15 balls as Warwickshire gained a stranglehold on the Vitality County Championship match at Chelmsford.

The Barbadian-born 20-year-old sent back Tom Westley, Nick Browne and Matt Critchley in an opening spell of 6-2-10-3 that reduced Essex from 52-2 to 63-5 en route to 162 all out.

There were similarities with the England pace man as Simmons finished with 3/12 to enable Warwickshire to build upon Ed Barnard’s six-and-three-quarter-hour, career-best 165 that underpinned their first-innings 397.

Essex were dismissed inside 52 overs, 235 runs adrift, though Warwickshire opted not to enforce the follow-on. They may live to regret the decision as they lost five wickets in 17.3 evening overs on day two while extending their lead by 43.

Captain Alex Davies departed to the fifth ball, steering Sam Cook to second slip, before Will Rhodes was undone by Jamie Porter and went lbw. Barnard was unable to replicate his first-innings heroics, chasing a Porter delivery down leg-side and was caught behind for a golden duck.

When Dan Mousley patted back Critchley’s second ball and Rob Yates fell to the last ball of the day, lbw to Simon Harmer, Warwickshire were starting to relive the nightmare of their first innings when they had slumped to 64-5.

Simmons’s fellow Warwickshire debutant Michael Rae, the New Zealand pace bowler signed this week as cover a lengthening injury list in the pace department, set the ball rolling when Essex batted. Feroze Khushi tried to whip him through midwicket but only chipped tamely to mid-on.

Dean Elgar followed when edging an attempted cover drive off Oliver Hannon-Dalby to second slip.

Then Simmons took centre stage. Westley was induced to hook to short square leg where Sam Hain took his second catch inches off the ground. Browne then hung out his bat and was caught behind and next ball Critchley left his bat dangling and departed to the same combination.

Michael Pepper prevented Simmons celebrating even further by turning the hat-trick ball through midwicket. However, Hannon-Dalby replaced Simmons and had Pepper under-cutting and being caught behind.

Jordan Cox refused to be tied down amid the carnage and hit Hannon-Dalby for three successive boundaries, two angled down to third man and another driven straight. He pulled Rob Yates fiercely for six, attempted a repeat next ball that struck short-leg Hain plumb in the helmet necessitating his removal from the action, and then missed a reverse sweep two balls later and was bowled for 47.

Simon Harmer had earlier completed best season’s bowling figures of 3/93 and reached double-figures with the bat for only the second time in eight innings. However, when 13 he got a thin touch to Rae to give wicketkeeper Michael Burgess a fourth catch.

Yates wrapped up the innings for figures of 3/27 as Cook popped up a catch to Hain’s replacement at bat-pad and Porter left one alone and was bowled.

Warwickshire batted for an hour and a half in the morning. Burgess lasted just seven more balls while adding three to his overnight 105 before edging Shane Snater behind to end a seventh-wicket stand of 209 with Barnard.

Simmons was as equally confident with the bat as with the ball before attempting to sweep Harmer and was bowled. Rae fell the same way but only after launching Harmer’s previous two balls for sixes.

Barnard reached his 150 with a six off Porter and equalled his previous top score of 163 with another maximum over long leg’s head off Critchley. But two runs later he swung at the same bowler and was caught in the deep for his first dismissal of the day.

Day 1 Reaction: Mick Lewis

Day 1 Highlights

Day 1 Report

An unbroken double-century seventh-wicket stand between Ed Barnard and Michael Burgess rescued Warwickshire from the depths of despair and lifted them into a commanding position against Essex at Chelmsford.

The pair came together with the score on 104-6 soon after lunch and by the close, 56 overs later, they had established a Warwickshire record for the seventh wicket against Essex of 204 and counting that had stood for 92 years.

During an innings in which he initially had to knuckle down before breaking loose, Barnard took his tally in his last four Vitality County Championship innings to 336 runs with an unbeaten 115. Meanwhile, 105 represented Burgess’s highest score for the season by 62. Neither man’s innings was chanceless, but both looked imperious.

Essex had appeared well in control when they claimed five wickets before lunch – four of those wickets falling to catches by Simon Harmer – but they toiled for the last two sessions as their usually consistent strike-force was reduced to ordinariness. Warwickshire finished on 308-6.

With Jimmy Anderson’s international retirement announced this week, Essex paceman Sam Cook had an early opportunity to elevate himself on the list of candidates to replace him.

It took Cook just 13 balls to strike with his 26th wicket of the season after Warwickshire decided to bat on a grass-less wicket that encouraged the bowlers early on before easing significantly as the day progressed. It was unlucky 13 for Rob Yates, who edged low down to Harmer at second slip. Cook bowled another 44 balls before claiming his only other wicket.

In between Warwickshire slipped to 64-5 with Shane Snater grabbing two wickets in the space of six balls, inducing Will Rhodes to thick edge to Harmer again before the off-stump of Sam Hain was removed as he shouldered arms without scoring.

Harmer’s third catch of the innings came off his own bowling as Dan Mousley patted the ball tamely back down the wicket.

Alex Davies had remained resolute at the other end, taking his three boundaries in a 60-ball 19 off Jamie Porter, one driven straight past the bowler. However, Porter had the last laugh as Harmer pulled off a brilliant one-handed catch to his right to dismiss the Warwickshire captain.

Barnard swept Harmer for two fours in three balls, but otherwise settled into an obdurate sixth-wicket stand with Jacob Bethell, who got off the mark with a single from his 26th ball, and that thanks to a misfield at square leg.
Bethell was re-energised after lunch and multiplied this total by five when he tucked Porter off his legs to the square-leg boundary before rocking on to his back-foot to cut the same bowler for another.

The partnership steadied the ship for 20 overs while adding 40 runs before Bethell played down the wrong line and was Cook’s second victim. It was the last of the day to fall.

Burgess and Barnard accelerated the score with their first fifty coming from just 59 balls, though both players survived dropped catches. Barnard was on 17 when missed by Michael Pepper off Cook while Burgess was floored at bat-pad and then off a top-edge on 19 and 39.

A reprieved Burgess reverse-swept Harmer for a smart boundary and reached his half-century from 49 balls with a six over midwicket off Matt Critchley. When Burgess hit Harmer for another four, this time with a more orthodox sweep, he carried the stand past 150 in 40 overs.

Barnard was first to his century, scored off 198 balls; Burgess slowed as he neared three-figures but still reached it from 149 balls.

The Eagles Have Landed: The 2024 Vitality Blast at The Cloud County Ground

Fresh from a Finals Day appearance last summer, Essex return to shortest-format action in Chelmsford from Sunday 02 June.

Demand remains exceptionally high, and there are now only 15% of tickets remaining across all seven home fixtures, with two already sold out.

With the Eagles aiming to go one better in 2024, there is no time to waste to snap up your seats.

Sunday 02 June, 4:00pm: Essex v Middlesex – buy here
Friday 07 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Glamorgan – buy here (LAST FEW TICKETS)
Friday 14 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Sussex Sharks – SOLD OUT
Thursday 20 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Hampshire Hawks – buy here
Friday 05 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Somerset – SOLD OUT
Thursday 11 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Kent Spitfires – buy here
Sunday 14 July, 2:30pm: Essex v Surrey – buy here