Match Preview: Essex v Durham


Essex v Durham

Vitality County Championship
The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford
Sunday 23 – Wednesday 26 June 2024 | 11:00am start

Having taken in eight breathless games of Vitality Blast action at breakneck speed, the more serene surroundings of the Vitality County Championship are back at The Cloud County Ground on Sunday.

Essex will mark the return of red-ball cricket by welcoming Durham to Chelmsford, having ended the last block of Championship cricket with two consecutive wins over Warwickshire and Kent.

Both victories were earned over four days, with the home win over the Bears coming after a successful colossal chase of 330 while the points haul picked up in Canterbury followed a titanic bowling effort.

At the Spitfire Ground St Lawrence, Essex piled up 591-7 declared as former Kent man Jordan Cox struck a mammoth 207 while Michael Pepper contributed a swift 82 and Nick Browne hit 65.

In reply, the Eagles forced the follow-on by dismissing Kent for 394, with Matt Critchley collecting 5/88, before ripping through the hosts in the second innings to skittle them for just 101.

Now, Anthony McGrath’s side sit just two points behind Surrey at the summit of Division One with half of the season’s Championship action complete, and two crucial games coming up.


Head Coach McGrath has named a 13-strong squad for the match, with two changes to the last red-ball group that travelled to Kent a month ago.

New overseas signing Eathan Bosch is in for the injured Sam Cook, while Paul Walter returns in place of Noah Thain.

The Inside Line: Tom Huggins

The Opposition

Durham were promoted from Division Two in 2023 in utterly dominant fashion, racking up seven wins and 233 points to finish far clear at the top.

They were defeated just once all season, in their first match of the campaign away at Sussex, and subsequently went on a rampant unbeaten run that saw them easily promoted.

This is their first season back in the top flight since 2016, but recent inexperience has not counted against Ryan Campbell’s side, as they sit comfortably in mid-table with 83 points.

They began with three draws from four in April, including a complete washout in their opener at home to Hampshire, but the exception was a 185-run win over Worcestershire at Kidderminster.

Since then, the North East outfit have recorded one of every result, with another draw against Hampshire followed up by a defeat to Lancashire and a crushing innings win over Somerset.

England Men’s Test captain Ben Stokes may have returned to the Durham fold to play in their last two matches, but he is absent for this game and it is David Bedingham, with 795 runs, and Ben Raine, with 17 wickets, who are their top performers so far in 2024.

Durham squad: Scott Borthwick (c), Colin Ackermann, David Bedingham, Graham Clark, Paul Coughlin, Michael Jones, Bas de Leede, Alex Lees, Callum Parkinson, Matthew Potts, Ben Raine, Ollie Robinson, Peter Siddle.

Last Time We Met

This is the return fixture between the sides this summer after Essex took a trip to the Seat Unique Riverside in late April, returning with 12 points after a washed-out third day forced a draw.

In the temporary absence of Tom Westley, who became a father for the second time during the game in Chester-le-Street, Sam Cook stepped up for his first match as Essex captain.

With Durham batting first on what looked a good pitch, an impressive bowling performance saw them all out for 358, with Colin Ackermann hitting 112 and Cook and Jamie Porter each taking three wickets.

In reply, Essex piled up 488 all out either side of a rained-off Day 3, as Nick Browne top-scored with a massive 184 on his first appearance of the season and Feroze Khushi also hit 107.

Cook, operating as a nightwatchman opener late on the first day, had also hit 25, prompting much discussion about the last Essex captain to simultaneously open the batting and the bowling.

Despite the sizeable first-innings advantage, the weather interruptions meant that a victory was improbable in the time that remained, and Durham had reached 131-2 before the draw was agreed.

Division One Table

How To Watch

If you are not able to make it to The Cloud County Ground in person, the game will be streamed live on the EssexCricketTV YouTube channel and available to watch via the Essex Cricket Matchzone.

A report and reaction will be published on the Club website after each day’s play via the Club website, while live updates and daily highlights will be provided on the Club’s social media channels.


Members of both counties are free to sit in any available and vacant seat, though the Doug Insole Pavilion benches and blocks 1-14 and 27-31 are reserved specifically for their use.

Meanwhile, general admission advance tickets are priced at £16 for adults, while young adults aged between 18 and 25 can buy at any time for £12 and under-18 tickets cost just £6.

A family ticket, covering two adults and two children, costs just £35, while a four-day ticket covering the entire match can be purchased over the phone for £44.

Please note that these two types of ticket are only available in advance of the fixture, and that individual adult tickets will rise in price to £20 if bought on the day.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 01245 254010 or by visiting the link below:

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

Fresh from a Finals Day appearance last summer, Essex are now back in Vitality Blast action for 2024.

With the Eagles sitting fourth in the South Group and firmly in contention for another knockout match, demand for tickets remains exceptionally high.

As Essex continue to aim towards going one better in 2024, there is no time to waste to snap up your seats.

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