Match Report: Essex v Durham


Essex v Durham

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


Team News

Essex: Dean Elgar, Nick Browne, Tom Westley (c), Jordan Cox, Matt Critchley, Paul Walter, Michael Pepper (wk), Simon Harmer, Shane Snater, Eathan Bosch, Jamie Porter.

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

Match Details

Umpires: Martin Saggers & Paul Pollard
Match Referee: Simon Hinks
Scorers: Paul Parkinson & William Dobson
Toss: Durham won the toss who elected to bat first
Result: Match drawn

Scorecard: View here

Day Four Highlights

Day Four Reaction: Dean Elgar

Day Four Report

Dean Elgar ground out his 50th career first-class century as Essex grittily defied a toiling Durham attack to draw the sides’ Vitality County Championship match at The Cloud County Ground.

Elgar, who ended on an unbeaten 120, and captain Tom Westley put on an unbroken 165 for the third wicket, as they batted untroubled for almost the entire day to secure the stalemate.

The Eagles, needing to bat out the 96 overs of the final day or complete a stunning chase of 433, resumed on an overnight 28-1, with Elgar and nightwatcher Jamie Porter the unbeaten duo.

Porter resisted gamely for the opening 20 minutes, but was dislodged for three by a Matthew Potts bail-trimmer into his off stump, leaving Essex 43-2.

However, that brought together Elgar and Westley, who set off on an obdurate session of brick-wall blocking to resist everything that was thrown at them.

Their first requirement was to make it to lunch, which – thanks in part to Westley booking in for 76 balls and being interested in only 11 runs – they did successfully, reaching the first break on 83-2.

That represented only 55 runs scored in two hours, with the Eagles’ approach, which became more and more successful over the course of the afternoon, very clear.

While bad balls did still receive the treatment, even by tea, the duo had still only put on 124 from 335 balls, hauling Essex to 167-2, though that was enough to contain Elgar’s second Eagles century.

He reached the landmark after a 170-ball stay lasting more than four hours, finally being able to raise his bat via a flicked two to fine leg off Colin Ackermann.

Following the second break of the day, and with the hosts in a near-ideal position of comfort, Westley cashed in to become the second batter of the day to 50, doing so in 198 balls.

His innings was even more obdurate than Elgar’s, though no less effective, as he finished unbeaten on 63 from a stout 229 deliveries, while the South African’s knock totalled 232 balls.

Westley’s final act was to round out the day just as he had begun it, culminating in handshakes being shared and confirming a 12-point draw for the Eagles.

Day Three Highlights

Day Three Reaction: Paul Walter

Day Three Report

Paul Walter’s sparkling century afforded Essex the opportunity to take the fightback against Durham into a fourth day of the Vitality County Championship clash at The Cloud County Ground.

Walter’s 134, his second first-class hundred, helped Essex post 339 all out, before the visitors, opting not to enforce the follow-on, registered 184-8 declared in a quickfire second innings.

Essex, requiring either 433 to win or to bat out the remainder of the match to secure a draw, then closed an eventful day on 28-1.

On another delightfully warm and clear day in Chelmsford, the Eagles resumed on their overnight 249-4 hoping to add the further 189 needed to avoid the follow-on.

However, their efforts were in vain as Critchley fell for 53 to an Alex Lees catch off Callum Parkinson, ending a stand of 147 with Walter, and Michael Pepper was bowled shortly afterwards.

Walter did go to his century in between those two wickets, reaching the landmark in 146 balls with a clipped single off Parkinson, but he too was bowled with the Essex score narrowly over 300.

Despite managing to resist the majority of the morning, the Eagles were eventually dismissed shortly before lunch as Peter Siddle claimed two of the final three wickets to fall.

With an advantage of 248, Durham could have opted to enforce the follow-on, but chose not to and instead re-emerged for the afternoon with bat in hand.

If Essex harboured hopes of a miraculous turnaround, they did them no harm when Jamie Porter saw first innings-centurion Lees nick off for a first-ball duck.

When Michael Jones then fell in identical fashion for 11, there was even more intrigue about the game, though Scott Borthwick and David Bedingham settled things down with a stand of 61.

Simon Harmer broke through that by seeing Tom Westley hold Bedingham for 28 to deliver a timely reminder that Durham would not have everything their own way.

That point was then further followed up by Critchley, who saw Ollie Robinson caught behind by Pepper to leave Durham 107-4.
Borthwick, who made 71, was finally removed by Harmer thanks to a Pepper catch, before Ben Raine followed for a second-ball duck.

A curious case of cat-and-mouse enveloped the rest of the innings, as Essex took regular wickets against a Durham side that was initially defensive but turned to the attack with a declaration in mind.

Bas de Leede, at one point on six not out from 33 balls, struck 31 before falling to a Pepper stumping, precipitating the declaration.

That left Essex 11 overs to bat out to get to the final day, and although Nick Browne fell for six, they were able to escape with enough intact to take the contest into a fourth day.

Day Two Highlights

Day Two Reaction: Matt Critchley

Day Two Report

Paul Walter and Matt Critchley led the Essex fightback on day two of the Vitality County Championship run-fest with Durham.

Durham’s fast bowling attack had restricted the hosts to 120-4 in response to 587, but Walter struck 80 not out alongside Critchley who will be unbeaten on 51 heading into day three.

The duo put on 129 for the fifth wicket to close the day on 249 4.

Earlier, Ollie Robinson had done his England Test hopes no harm with a flawless 198 as Durham secured maximum batting points in their title charge.

Durham, resuming on 445-4, continued to drown Essex’s attack in runs – as they smashed 142 runs in 26 morning overs before they were bowled out – with maximum batting points pocketed.

Robinson completed his 150 with the third ball of the day – the last four of his nine career centuries have exceeded the milestone.

The former Kent player simply picked up where he had left off on day one, scoring runs at ease and refusing to allow the bowlers to build any pressure.

He past his previous best of 171 – scored against Lancashire in May – and looked set for 200 before trying to force a cut shot, but only edged behind. He was given a generous applause by the crowd on his return to the dressing room.

Otherwise, Critchley and Simon Harmer plugged away with semi-regular wickets amongst the flow of runs.

Harmer and bat-pad Nick Browne combined to dismiss Colin Ackermann and Bas de Leede, with the South African later bowling former team-mate Peter Siddle.

The off-spinner returned four for 188, the most runs he had conceded in a Championship innings.

To go with Robinson, Critchley also snaffled Ben Raine and Matt Potts. Essex’s spinners joining for figures of eight for 346 with Durham bowled out for 587 – the 15th highest score at Chelmsford.

After an energy sapping 122 overs in the field, the hosts were lethargic with the bat.

Browne had already survived being dropped at second slip on 12 when he tickled Potts behind in the sixth over.

Dean Elgar oozed elegance with seven fours in 40, in a 51-run stand with Tom Westley, but edged Siddle to first slip before Westley was leg before to Raine.

Jordan Cox got a start but also fell before making a telling contribution – bowled by a jag backer from the energetic Potts. It left Essex 120 for four and starting to worry about the follow-on target.

But Critchley mimicked Alex Lees’ controlling style, while Walter was closer to Robinson’s aggression, to resuscitate the innings with a century partnership.

Walter was imperious in his decision-making, whether it was slog sweeping for six, clipping off his legs, touching to third or flashing outside off stump.

The maximum took him to 2,000 first class runs before his half-century came up in 63 balls.

Walter and Critchley – whose fifty came in 111 deliveries – were unbreakable in the evening session, as Essex finally found a foothold in the match, but remain 188 runs shy of the follow-on.

Day One Highlights

Day One Reaction: Tom Westley

Day One Report

Centuries for Alex Lees and Ollie Robinson meant the Essex attack was made to toil on a hot first day of the Vitality County Championship clash with Durham at The Cloud County Ground.

Opener Lees struck 113 while Robinson hit 146 not out as Durham, having won the toss, racked up 444-4 at stumps as red-ball cricket returned to Chelmsford for the first time in 34 days.

Debutant Eathan Bosch was the pick of the home bowlers with 2/72, while spinners Simon Harmer and Matt Critchley also picked up one apiece.

The temperature was already high by the time the toss took place at 10:30am, and Durham took immediate advantage of the conditions with a quickfire opening partnership of 61 in 12 overs.

That was brought to an end with the introduction of Bosch from the Graham Gooch End, as the South African took the wicket of Michael Jones, caught behind by Michael Pepper for 38, with his second ball.

With their tails up, Essex did strike joy again almost immediately afterwards, as opposing captain Scott Borthwick top-edged Bosch through to Pepper for five, leaving Durham 83-2.

However, a resistant stand between Lees and Bedingham saw the visitors reach lunch at 144-2, with the duo’s 50 stand coming up just after Lees’ individual half-century was notched in 81 balls.

Bedingham followed suit early in the afternoon from just 53 deliveries as the pair neared a 100 stand, though the breakthrough did arrive before they were able to make it.

The in-form South African, who is the leading run-scorer in the Championship so far this year, had cruised to 65 but fell to Pepper’s third catch of the day, from the bowling of Harmer, in mid-afternoon.

That did, though, only serve to bring Robinson to the crease, and the duo went on to go even further, as Lees passed 100 in 184 balls on the way to a stand of 136 for the fourth wicket.

Robinson followed to 50 from 74 balls moments before tea, which was reached with Durham comfortable at 267-3, and the pair pressed on past 300 into the evening.

Critchley removed Lees after the second of three ball changes that occurred throughout the day, pinned lbw, but that was to be the last breakthrough that Essex were able to take on a tough day.

Colin Ackermann, who hit a century against the Eagles in the reverse fixture at the Seat Unique Riverside in April, accompanied Robinson to the close unbeaten on 58, with the partnership worth an unbroken 130.

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