Peter Siddle took five for 48 with some typically accurate bowling as Essex’s claimed their fourth Specsavers County Championship of the season. Hampshire’s defeat by an innings and 52 runs was confirmed with 14 and a half overs left on the fourth day
It was Siddle’s third five-wicket haul in six Championship appearances for Essex. He plays the last game of his stint against champions-elect Surrey, starting on Tuesday at Chelmsford, before returning to his day job back in Australia. He already has 34 red-ball wickets this wicket to his credit.
He was well supported by Simon Harmer, who alternated between his traditional haunt at the Hayes Close End and the River End, and finished with four wickets for 64. He has 43 wickets this summer to follow up his 72 last year
Hampshire, losing for the fourth time this season, moved deeper into troubled waters in the lower reaches of Division One.
Tom Alsop and Sam Northeast kept Essex in the field longer than they would have liked into the early evening. Northeast steadied the ship during the morning with Kyle Abbott, finally departing after 101 balls for 41. The left-handed Alsop was even more the immovable object personified, his innings spanning all three sessions while eking out 51 runs from 141 balls.
After losing the whole of the first day to damp spots where the wicketkeepers stand, Essex managed to pull off their victory inside three days. It was reminiscent of many of the wins in last season’s title success, piling up runs in the first innings and bowling teams out twice. This was the first time this season they had managed to do so. They also took a maximum 24 points for the first time this year.
Needing to take eight wickets at the start of the fourth day, it looked as if Essex would wrap the game in double-quick time, especially when Siddle carried on from his devastating bowling of the previous evening. He had left Hampshire 17 for two overnight, and reduced them further to 24 for four in his second over of the morning.
With the second ball of the over he had Ian Holland playing on for a 25-ball two, and followed four balls later when Hampshire captain James Vince was undone by a beauty, an off-cutter that sent his off-stump flying.
Essex were held up for 14 overs while Kyle Abbott and Sam Northeast added 39 runs. It was a classic example of obduracy, though there was the odd outburst of aggression. Northeast caressed Sam Cook for successive boundaries either side of the wicket and Abbott lofted Harmer back over his head.
The fifth-wicket stand ended in discord when Abbott called Northeast for a sharp single to substitute fielder Paul Walter at cover. Except Northeast didn’t move. Abbott was halfway down the wicket and applying the brakes by the time substitute wicketkeeper Michael Pepper had gathered Walter’s throw and removed the bails. The rock-like Abbott had gone for 22 from 70 balls.
Harmer kept changing ends to keep the pressure on the batsmen. He was on at the Hayes Close End to end Northeast’s stay to his 101st ball soon after lunch. Harmer turned one away and caught the edge of the batsman’s forward prod with Varun Chopra holding on at slip.
Bowling from the River End, Rilee Rossouw executed a reverse-sweep, rather out of synch with the match positon but Harmer hit back when the South African drove into Nick Browne’s hands at short cover for 14 from 30 balls.
Siddle had his fifth wicket when Liam Dawson got an inside edge that Pepper took one-handed going low down to his left.
Alsop, who hit 99 against Nottinghamshire last week, reached his snail-pace fifty with his eighth boundary, a square-drive off Cook. It had taken 135 balls. Next ball he brought up the fifty partnership with Gareth Berg. His three-hour vigil ended six balls later when Harmer extracted some extra bounce and Pepper juggled with the ball before finally claiming the catch in front of the wicket.
Berg showed some late aggression when he put Harmer over long leg for six but Berg became Harmer’s fourth wicket, lbw, after scoring 37 from 107 balls.
Kyle Abbott claimed his first five-wicket haul of the season but Hampshire's batsmen found things difficult as Essex enforced the follow-on on day three at Chelmsford.
Hampshire were all out for 172 in 79 overs, 263 runs behind Essex’s 435. And, second time around, they lost Joe Weatherley, bowled without scoring, to Siddle’s fifth ball and Jimmy Adams in the Australian’s second over, pushing forward to a straight delivery.
Peter Siddle finished the day with two for 10 from his four second-innings overs to follow his tidy two for 22 in the first innings.
At the close of the third day, Hampshire were 17 for two from nine overs in the evening, still 246 runs away from Essex's first-innings target.
It was Sam Cook who was Essex’s chief wicket-taker in the first-innings as he picked up three for 27 from 10 and a half overs, while Simon Harmer wheeled away for 31 overs, taking two for 52.
James Vince, who had not fielded in the morning, nor taken his usual place at first wicket down, suffering from a stomach bug, came in at No5 and hung around for 96 balls while eking out 26 runs.
The first-innings collapse started in the fourth over when Jimmy Adams was bowled by Cook for one. And in the 11 overs that followed they lost two more to go to lunch at 44 for three.
Ian Holland, replacing Vince at No3, went in the first of Harmer’s marathon 27-over stint, punctuated only by lunch and tea, bowled by one that turned and struck middle-stump. Then on the stroke of the interval Sam Northeast was pouched at slip off Siddle. that brought in the captain.
Vince soon lost opener Joe Weatherley, shuffling across in front of his stumps and was lbw to Siddle for 32. Tom Alsop had just driven Sam Cook to the boundary, but played no shot as the next ball struck off-stump.
Vince and Rilee Rossouw then put down roots for 17 overs. The sixth-wicket pair were becalmed for 37 deliveries after the departure of Alsop, with the South African taking 19 balls to get off the mark. Vince launched the 46th ball he faced over long leg for the six that finally took him into double-figures.
They had added 25 before Harmer got one to turn square and Rossouw found Nick Browne’s hands at short midwicket.
Gareth Berg clipped to Browne in the same position to give Bopara the first of two successive wicket. His second, via a wide half-volley, was that of Vince, who failed to move his feet and gave Harmer catching practice at second slip.
The largest stand of the innings was the 36 put on for the ninth wicket between Kyle Abbott and Liam Dawson until Jamie Porter took his first wicket of the innings, bowling Dawson for 32. And Cook wrapped the innings up on 172 when he had Fidel Edwards caught behind.
Essex added 72 in 11 overs in the morning to claim maximum batting points for the first time his season. They required 37 from seven overs at the start of the day to gain their fifth point, Harmer took it upon himself to get Essex there. He went to bed overnight on nought from 17 balls. But in 17 balls in the first session he thumped three fours in reaching 19.
When he was out, caught by a diving Jimmy Adams at slip, Essex had whittled the target down to six from 12 balls. However, it was not until the third ball of the 110th over that Siddle deposited Kyle Abbott over cow corner for the six that took Essex from 398 to 404.
Siddle departed two balls later, lbw to give Abbott his fifth wicket, but too late to give Hampshire a final bowling point.
Dan Lawrence’s 210-ball stay for 124 ended in the next over when he turned Holland off his legs into sub Aneurin Donald’s hands at long leg.
Hampshire’s discomfort continued when the last-wicket pair of Porter and Cook put on 23 in three overs with Cook’s 14 from eight balls representing his highest first-class score. When he attempted to pull Edwards for his fourth four he was out for the first time in eight innings this season to give him an average of 41.00.
Dan Lawrence made his first Specsavers County Championship century in nearly a year to thwart Hampshire on day two of their four day contest against Essex,
Coincidentally the 21-year-old’s seventh of eight first-class hundreds came in a famous victory against Hampshire at Southampton in the penultimate game of last season.
But Lawrence has struggled, like most of his team-mates, for runs in Essex’s post-title-winning campaign and had just one half-century to his name previously this summer.
He started circumspectly, and was outscored at one point in his first century partnership by Ryan ten Doeschate, who came in two wickets later, but picked up with the return of the confidence that brought him an England Lions call-up in the winter. He was 114 not out from 192 balls at stumps.
Essex finished the day on 263 for six, only the fourth time this season they have gone beyond 300 in an innings.
Indeed, Essex’s top-order had endured such a parlous season they had accumulated just 11 batting points before Hampshire’s arrival at Chelmsford. But that was advanced by four on a day when nearly everything and everyone clicked and five batsmen surpassed their season’s averages by considerable margins.
Varun Chopra, prolific against the white ball, had averaged just 13.20 in the Championship, but his 61 from 142 balls was nearly twice his previous best. Tom Westley’s 40 from 96 balls was also more than double his average of 17.07 and Lawrence’s three-figure score well and truly eclipsed his mean of 21.61. Ten Doeschate, going past fifty for the fourth time in his last five innings, beat his 40.17, and finally in the evening sunshine Adam Wheater’s swashbuckling 52 bettered his 21.50.
In addition, Essex posted three century partnerships with Chopra and Westley putting on 101 for the second wicket, Lawrence and ten Doeschate compiling 122 for the fifth, and Lawrence and Wheater 105 for the sixth.
It was a day of toil for Hampshire. Kyle Abbott provoked a mini-collapse in mid-afternoon when he reduced Essex from 117 for one to 124 for four with three wickets at a personal cost of four runs in 16 balls. Abbott had three for 58 at the close.
The players spent the entire first day in the changing rooms because of damp areas on the outfield, but play started promptly with eight overs tagged on to the second day’s duration. Hampshire opted for a toss, lost it and Essex made them pay.
Browne, who had taken two well-struck boundaries in three balls off Abbott, exited in the fifth over for nine when Fidel Edwards swung a ball in to clip the top of middle stump.
That brought together Chopra and Westley for a partnership that embraced 33 overs. They started tentatively but picked up once they had past fifty in 17 overs.
Spinner Liam Dawson made a surprise appearance as early as the 11th over, and found some movement off the pitch almost immediately. Westley played down the wrong line but got an involuntary edge for four to third man, and then was fortunate to miss one that turned from middle to fly past off-stump.
Westley and Chopra hit 15 fours between them, Westley diving both Abbott and Holland handsomely through the covers and Chopra pulling Abbott.
But Abbott stopped the steady progress with three wickets for seven runs in 34 balls. Westley departed for 40 when one nipped back and knocked over off-stump.
Chopra followed when he was pinned plumb in front and Ravi Bopara lasted just four balls before edging to Jimmy Adams at slip. Essex’s mini-collapse had taken just 34 balls.
Ten Doeschate corrected the downturn with three successive fours off Gareth Berg and a straight six off Liam Dawson. Lawrence had eight fours in his 83-ball half-century, achieved on the stroke of tea, including a particularly well-timed boundary off his hip against Holland.
The captain was the third player to fifty when he drove Dawson through the covers to reach the milestone from 65 balls, courtesy of six fours and the day’s only six. But he fell, nibbling at an Ian Holland delivery outside off-stump to give Adams a second catch.
Wheater took Essex to their second batting point with a cover drive off Holland and then pulled the Australian-born seamer for another in the same over. He followed up by guiding Berg to third man, another straight back past the bowler and a further one from Abbott’s fourth ball with the new-ball.
The wicketkeeper’s fifty against his old team came with an edge through the slips and had taken 74 balls with 10 fours. In quick succession, the sixth-wicket stand passed one hundred in 23 overs and then Lawrence reached his century from 173 balls with 14 fours.
Wheater had maintained Essex’s momentum and eventually went when he was bowled by Dawson for an 82-ball 52.
Unfortunately wet weather ensured there was no play on day one of Hampshire's Specsavers County Championship match against Essex at Chelmsford.