Worcestershire 43 for 3 (Cook 3-14) trail Essex 490 for 9 dec (Westley 213, Wheater 87) by 447 runs
Graham Gooch, the eternal overlord of all he surveys at Chelmsford, was holding court on the balcony at fine leg throughout the second day of Essex’s season opener. “You have to earn your right to score runs in April,” he observed with his connoisseur’s eye, as Tom Westley clicked through his gears with the sort of poise and acceleration that can only have pleased the county’s most famous taskmaster.
If Gooch also had something to say about “daddy hundreds” as he chewed the fat with his host of fellow Essex grandees, Keith Fletcher and David Acfield among them, then he muttered those particular words while the wind was picking up and blowing in the wrong direction off the Can.
But Westley, for whom that phrase is set to take on a more literal meaning come September, needed no cajoling from the otherwise empty stands, to put a very paternal mark on his team’s first innings of the season.
By the time he’d holed out to deep midwicket in the evening session, in Essex’s half-hour surge before their inevitable declaration, Westley had racked up the small matter of 213 runs from 408 balls, in a shade under nine hours of determined accumulation. By the time Worcestershire had limped to 43 for 3 at the close, victims of a savage late surge of three wickets in five balls from Sam Cook, his efforts seemed positively Brobdingnagian.
It was Westley’s second double-century, and his second highest score – behind the 254 he made, also against Worcestershire, in 2016 – and in his second season as county captain (after taking over from Ryan ten Doeschate after Essex’s 2019 Championship victory) he had overhauled in a single visit to the crease the 173 runs he made during his lean run in last year’s Bob Willis Trophy triumph. He’s earned his right to more than just runs in April with this performance.
Resuming on 207 for 3, with Worcestershire’s bowlers already leggy from some fairly fruitless first-day exertions, Westley was not kept waiting for his first century since September 2019. Joe Leach found a tight line to keep things honest from the Hayes Close End, but Charlie Morris – an intermittent menace on the opening day – strayed all too often on to those run-hungry legs, gifting two early flicked fours to get the juices flowing before a soft-handed deflection through the gully carried Westley to 98.
Ed Barnard entered the attack and got the slips chattering briefly when he induced a nervy inside-edge down into the crease, but it was a brief illusion of fallibility. Another overcooked delivery in the same over was flicked out behind square leg to cue a roar from the Essex dressing room that more than compensated for the absence of acclaim in the ground’s emptier corners.
And from thereon in, Westley found a freedom to his game that he had been keeping under wraps throughout his drily responsible first-day foray. Barnard was sumptuously driven, hard through long-on, before Leach – who unleashed a cry of frustration after being picked off with soft hands through third man – was banished from the attack one over later as Westley added further boundaries through midwicket and extra cover, each with a liberated flourish.
He wasn’t the only batsman to sense an opportunity to put the hammer down. Paul Walter couldn’t quite make his intentions stick, as he was caught at second slip for 38 off Barnard, but ten Doeschate came clattering down the pavilion steps, as if he and Darren Stevens, over at Wantage Road, had made a pact to promote the cause of home county 40-somethings. His first full over, off Dillon Pennington, was rifled for 14 runs with three emphatic fours, and Pennington came in for further punishment, including a violent pull behind square, before Brett D’Oliveira’s understated legspin extracted a plumb lbw.
Essex by this stage had marched past 300, and Westley made it his business to keep them marching onwards, as Morris’ return was greeted with three more fours, the pick of them an angled drive through the covers that carried Westley on to his highest score for five years. His 150 came up with another flick off the pads, and when Daryl Mitchell entered the attack with his lesser-spotted offbreaks, Westley was waiting to pound him dismissively down the ground twice in three balls.
Adam Wheater, working the angles and chivvying the score along in a 157-run stand for the sixth wicket, was an even-paced foil as Westley closed in on his 200. Leach returned to the attack, and attempted to hide the ball outside off in a bid to force an error, but it was too late in the day for such subtleties. Twice in three overs, he was thrashed over the off side as Westley was happy to go fishing, the second of which was a clumping connection in front of square to unleash the dressing room’s vocal chords once more.
The end of the innings became a bit of a thrash, as Essex shipped four wickets in six overs, three of them caught in the deep including Wheater for 87 to cue the declaration. He was perhaps still ruing his missed century when, from the second delivery of Worcestershire’s reply, Wheater shelled a sitter behind the stumps as Mitchell fiddled outside off to Jamie Porter. The let-off seemed to have emboldened Worcestershire as they saw off the new ball with few further alarms, to hint at a peaceful conclusion to the day.
Not so fast. In the 14th over, Cook switched to the Hayes Close End to dramatic effect. His third ball jagged back wickedly to confound Mitchell on the back foot, and bowl him for 16 to a half-leave, before Tom Fell and Gareth Roderick – the latter on his Worcestershire debut – were picked off for ducks in consecutive deliveries. Simon Harmer at second slip and Westley himself at third transcended the chilly conditions to make two sharp chances look easy. Two days of the season gone, and Essex as a whole are doing likewise.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket
Recent Match Report – Glamorgan vs Yorkshire Group 3 2021
Only 13 overs possible on final day but Glamorgan batter impresses
Glamorgan 149 (Brook 3-13, Patterson 3-27) and 164 for 4 (Carlson 88*, Lloyd 40) drew with Yorkshire 230 (Root 99, Patterson 47*, Neser 5-39)
Persistent rain prevented a positive result in the LV=Insurance County Championship match between Glamorgan and Yorkshire in Cardiff with only 13 overs possible on the final day, but there was enough time for Kiran Carlson to continue his impressive season with his sixth fifty-plus score of this campaign.
The match was set up for an exciting finish at the close of day three with Glamorgan 27 runs in front with seven first innings wickets in hand. The weather meant that the players only made it into the middle at 4:15pm and Glamorgan successfully saw out a tricky session to secure the draw.
It was a frustrating experience in the hours before they started with the sun shining just long enough for some hope to emerge only for the rain to reappear to send the groundsmen back to their hut.
A brilliant 99 from England captain Joe Root on day three had given Yorkshire hope of pushing for a win but first rain and then Carlson prevented that from happening. Carlson finished the day on 88 not out with Glamorgan 164 for 4.
When play did get started Yorkshire were convinced they had David Lloyd caught in the slips in the first over but it was off his thigh pad rather than his bat. As it was, they had Lloyd without adding to his overnight score when he was trapped lbw by Ben Coad. That was the only wicket to fall before the players shook hands.
Carlson has been Glamorgan’s most consistent batsman in this Championship campaign, and his runs meant that any chances of a Yorkshire win evaporated. Such was Carlson’s brilliance, had Glamorgan had more time, they might even have set up a victory chance of their own. Carlson now has four fifties and two hundreds this season as his potential has begun to be realised.
The draw gives Yorkshire 12 points, sending them to the top of Group 3 of the Championship, five points ahead of Lancashire who did not play in this round of matches.
Recent Match Report – Essex vs Derbyshire Group 1 2021
Champions recover from first-day washout to complete second win of campaign
Essex 412 for 3 dec beat Derbyshire 146 (Guest 49, Harmer 9-80) and 251 (Guest 65, Godleman 45, Porter 3-41, Cook 3-45, Harmer 3-122) by an innings and 15 runs
Simon Harmer claimed his seventh LV= Insurance County Championship 10-wicket haul as Essex returned to winning ways by cruising to an innings-and-15-run victory over Derbyshire.
Harmer, who bowled unchanged from the River End on day four, took 3 for 122 in the second innings after a career-best 9 for 80 in the first, for a match analysis of 12 for 202. Jamie Porter and Sam Cook also took three scalps in the second innings.
Ryan ten Doeschate claimed six catches in the match, all at short-leg – the 14th occasion an Essex player has managed the feat and first since Alastair Cook versus Durham in 2004.
The win handed Essex the maximum 24 points to recharge their Division One ambition after three games without a success, while Derbyshire only secured a solitary point.
But a change of ball, after Guest had swept into the brick wall in front of the pavilion, brought about an immediate change. Porter angled in to Godleman to rap the former Essex man on the pads.
Four overs later Guest made a rare misstep on 65, as he offered no shot to Sam Cook and was also given lbw.
Leus du Plooy and Wayne Madsen were both dropped either side of lunch – the former dropped by Alastair Cook at first slip and the latter survived sweeping at leg slip Dan Lawrence.
Essex’s close-in fielders continued to chunter noisily about “going bang-bang”, and finally got their wish as Madsen and du Plooy’s stand ended in quick succession, having been together for 19 overs.
Madsen tickled onto his thigh pad before ten Doeschate swooped at short-leg to give Harmer his first of the innings, having been wicketless for 29.5 overs.
In the following over, Shane Snater drew an edge out of du Plooy with Alastair Cook holding on at first slip.
Harvey Hosein and Matt Critchley chewed up another 15 overs before another bang-bang as Harmer and ten Doeschate teamed up for the sixth time in the match.
Hosein was the victim of some panther-like reactions, low under the lid, after a thick inside-edge before Fynn Hudson-Prentice went back and looped a diving chance off his legs.
Critchley was the next to depart when Porter struck with the second new ball as he edged to Alastair Cook.
Sam Cook completed the emphatic victory when Billy Stanlake chipped to mid-on before Alex Hughes sliced to point.
Essex have now beaten Derbyshire by an innings in four of their last five meetings, with this win coming despite a washed-out opening day and 147 overs lost in the match.
David Saker on Newlands ball-tampering controversy
The then Australia bowling coach has likened the team’s ‘monumental mistake’ to the underarm incident of 1981
David Saker, Australia’s bowling coach at the time of the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, has said the controversy will continue to taint Australian cricket much like the underarm incident of 1981 has done.
Saker’s comments came in the wake of the publication of an interview in The Guardian, where Cameron Bancroft – the player caught using sandpaper on the ball at Newlands – hinted that there was wider knowledge of the ball-tampering plan within the Australian dressing room beyond the trio of players sanctioned by Cricket Australia: himself, captain Steven Smith and vice-captain David Warner.
Without going into details of what went on in the dressing room, Saker said there was no foreseeable end to the blame game surrounding the events at Newlands.
“Obviously a lot of things went wrong at that time. The finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on,” Saker told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
“There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.
“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.
“You could point your finger at me, you could point your finger at Boof [then head coach Darren Lehmann], could you point it at other people, of course you could.
“The disappointing thing is it’s never going to go away. Regardless of what’s said. We all know that we made a monumental mistake. The gravity wasn’t as plain until it all came out.”
Following the publication of the Bancroft interview, Cricket Australia had issued a statement clarifying it was still open to hearing and investigating any new information brought to light about the Newlands incident, whether from Bancroft or anyone else.
Saker wasn’t sure what a reopened investigation would achieve.
“I don’t think it’d be unfair. I just don’t know what they’re going to find out,” Saker said. “It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away.”
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