Essex 227 (|Harmer 64, Brooks 3-56, Patterson 3-66) v Yorkshire
Steven Patterson and Jack Brooks took three wickets each to help Yorkshire secure their Division One place for another year on the first day of their last Specsavers County Championship match of the season.
Yorkshire started the day knowing that a six-point swing with Somerset would finally allay any lingering fears they had of joining Warwickshire in Division Two next season. When Somerset collapsed to 236 all out at Taunton against Middlesex, and lost batting points in the process, Yorkshire knew that a decent bowling display at Chelmsford would ensure their safety.
There was a similar sigh in the Essex ranks that it was announced Tom Westley had suffered no more than bruising to his right thumb when rapped on the glove trying to fend off one that reared up unexpectedly from Patterson. The ball looped to second slip, but the Essex No 3 did not hang around to wait for the umpire’s raised finger.
Never has a batsman dashed quite so quickly from the scene of his demise. Westley barely broke stride as he bounded up the pavilion steps straight into the physio’s room. With England’s party for the Ashes due to be named on Wednesday morning, the sizeable Chelmsford crowd awaited news of the injury. Westley went for a precautionary X-ray that showed no break; he will bat in the second innings.
It was the first of Patterson’s three wickets. Later he would dismiss both Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster after the sixth-wicket pair that lifted Essex from the depths of 80 for five. That the county champions would take one batting point for their 227 all out was largely due to some lusty late hitting by Neil Wagner and Simon Harmer, who recorded his maiden fifty for Essex.
The day started half-an-hour late and ended with 24 overs unbowled because of combination of drizzle and bad light. Varun Chopra made up for lost time, taking 10 runs off Brooks’s first over. He found the pitch sufficiently slow that he was moving several yards down the wicket before the bowler was in his delivery stride. He connected with one from Patterson which sailed so far over long leg that there was a delay while another ball was found.
Nick Browne settled into characteristic studiously mode. He took 18 balls to get off the mark before denting Coad’s parsimonious start with an imperious straight-drive to the boundary. Coad gained his reward, however, when he had Chopra, on 28, hanging his bat outside offstump to give Alex Lees the catch at first slip.
Westley cover-drove Patterson gloriously for one of three boundaries in his 13 before the same bowler caused him his discomfort.
Westley’s departure precipitated a collapse with four wickets in the 11 overs that preceded lunch as the pitch suddenly became spiteful and Essex fell from 63 for one. Dan Lawrence, centurion in the morale-boosting victory at Hampshire last week, was third to go, playing across one from Brooks for eight.
Browne, having faced 92 balls, became Coad’s second victim when he played down the wrong line and was bowled for 29, and Ravi Bopara was trapped plumb to Brooks in similar fashion to Lawrence for just for one.
Ten Doeschate and Foster set about post-lunch reparations with a stand of 55 in 16 overs that was full of typical sharp singles and some lusty blows. Foster swept Coad effortlessly for six, but the ball after lofting Patterson straight past the bowler for a one-bounce four, the veteran pair were separated.
Foster attempted to hammer Patterson over the midwicket boundary but failed to clear Kraigg Brathwaite stationed there for that eventuality, and departed for 25. Ten Doesechate followed seven runs later, nicking behind to give Patterson his third scalp. The Essex captain had faced 50 balls for his 30.
Wagner weighed in with a crucial 44 at Southampton, and he carried on in the same vein. He bounced down the wicket and arced Coad over midwicket for six before his big-hitting came to a premature end when he miscued to mid-off to give Brooks a third wicket. The eight-wicket stand with Harmer was worth 41 in nine overs.
Harmer was also nimble on his feet to drive spinner Karl Carver through mid-on for four and his eighth boundary, a straight-drive off Patterson, took him to his maiden fifty for Essex from 63 balls. He finally went lbw sweeping at Carver for 64. Jamie Porter’s contribution to a ninth-wicket stand of 39 was a single, and he was last man out when heaving Carver to long-off.