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Daily Reports: Essex v Hampshire, Specsavers County Championship

Read daily reports from Hampshire's Specsavers County Championship match against Essex at Chelmsford

Day One

Simon Harmer snared his fourth Specsavers County Championship five-wicket haul of the season as Essex bowled Hampshire out for 118.

Harmer, who has now taken 24 scalps at Chelmsford alone this season, finished with figures of five for 23 to elevate him back to the joint-top of the Division One wicket-taking charts – which he shares with Lewis Gregory and Jeetan Patel, who all have 35 wickets.

Harmer’s bowling exploits were followed-up by Ravi Bopara's fifty as Essex moved into a lead of 29 runs, for the loss of Sir Alastair Cook, Nick Browne and Tom Westley.

Going into the game, Hampshire sat in second place with the second highest acquisition of batting bonus points. With that confidence and a healthy-looking pitch, stand-in captain Sam Northeast elected to bat having won the toss.

After a 40-minute delay to the start of play due to rain, Jamie Porter had Joe Weatherley lbw in the third over.

Two balls later Porter found the outside edge of Ajinkya Rahane’s bat, as the India Test star handed Adam Wheater a catch on his return – the wicketkeeper had missed the last 10 weeks due to a thumb injured, which he damaged in the reverse fixture at the Ageas Bowl.

Essex brought up their first bowling point in just the sixth over when Sam Cook joined the party, as Tom Alsop was caught by Dan Lawrence at gully.

Following another half an hour rain break, Northeast and the assertive Rilee Rossouw offered a glint of hope for the visitors with a 45-run stand but both faltered once Harmer entered the attack in the 14th over.

Bowling from his deadly River End, Harmer needed nine balls before his golden arm had Northeast hit on the pads and given lbw.

South African Rossouw top scored with 34 from 32 balls before he was stumped while Aneurin Donald was bowled by a wicked Sam Cook in swinger, before James Fuller deflected Harmer to Ryan ten Doeschate at short leg.

Sam Cook completed his impressive three for 50 when Kyle Abbott was leg before.

Harmer’s off-spin told for both Keith Barker and Mason Crane - who had slapped a six over mid-wicket – as Hampshire were bowled out for 118.

Essex’s reply started serenely, with 53 added for the first wicket before Fuller – with his fifth delivery - found the ball to straighten up onto Sir Alastair Cook’s pads, before Nick Browne was leg before to Barker in the following over.

Tom Westley quickly departed when he was bowled by Barker, but Bopara, who scored his 50 of 73 balls, and Dan Lawrence guided the hosts to the close in a strong position with a half century partnership.

Day Two

Simon Harmer claimed match figures of 12 for 61 as Essex beat Hampshire by an innings and eight runs – having bowled out the visitors for 118 and 88.

Harmer, who collected analysis of five for 23 in the first innings, finished with seven for 38 in the second – his third 10-wicket haul for the county, and fourth of his first-class career.

The spinner has now taken four five-wicket hauls in his six innings bowling at Chelmsford this season and has taken 42 scalps for the campaign – the highest in the country.

Essex, who have comfortably won all three of their Specsavers County Championship at home, move within seven points of Hampshire in second place in Division One, and boast a game in hand.

Essex had begun the day on 147 for three but were themselves bowled out before lunch, as they lost seven wickets for 67 runs, before Hampshire were given a tricky three over spell before lunch.

Only 17 balls of the three overs were bowled, though, before Tom Alsop was lbw to Jamie Porter.

India Test star Ajinkya Rahane was caught behind for a duck for the second time in the match to the first ball of the resumption.

Off-spinner Harmer was then brought into the attack in the fourth over, originally to replace Sam Cook who was forced to walk off the ground with what appeared to be a back issue mid-way through his second over.

And he needed just five balls to have Sam Northeast stumped, the Hampshire stand-in captain losing his bearings after hitting into the ground.

Rilee Rossouw was caught at point and Aneurin Donald at mid-wicket – both by Beard.

South African Harmer then completed his second five-for in the match when James Fuller was lbw and Keith Barker edged to Sir Alastair Cook at first slip in three balls – to leave Hampshire 32 for seven.

Opener Weatherley, who carried his bat for 29, and Abbott provided some respite with a 29-run stand for the eighth wicket, before the latter was caught at mid-off.

Harmer rounded off the victory as Mason Crane was caught in unorthodox fashion as Adam Wheater dropped the chance onto his own foot before kicking to Ryan ten Doeschate at short leg and Fidel Edwards was lbw.

Earlier, Essex batsmen Ravi Bopara and Dan Lawrence took their partnership to 105 runs, before the former was leg before to Fuller without playing a shot for a well-made 59.

Lawrence celebrated his second Championship half-century of the season from 108 deliveries before he was the first of Abbott’s four victims – as Hampshire began to assert huge pressure on the hosts.

Wheater, playing against his former county, and Harmer were Abbott’s next casualties as they were also struck on the pads in front.

Edwards grabbed two wickets in two balls as he knocked back Aaron Beard’s off stump with a yorker before ten Doeschate was caught behind by a full-length dive by Alsop.

Abbott ended the Essex innings when he had Sam Cook lbw – the seventh leg before of the innings, a Hampshire record – to end with figures of four for 54.

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