Today’s dilemma was solved quickly – Back to Chelmsford for the denouement of the match between Essex and Yorkshire which could go either way but will be resolved today, or struggling with the rail replacement bus service which would double travel time to get to the Oval for the potential Surrey and Worcestershire batting fest (perhaps tomorrow?).
The bare facts – 34 wickets fallen in six sessions which means that at the start Essex need 141 more to win or Yorkshire six wickets to score a famous victory having been all out for 50 by 1235 on the first morning. Which way will it go? Yorkshire need to bowl six balls to take the wickets but Essex need to dig in. Wickets have fallen in clumps so far whilst the Essex tail wagged well on Friday afternoon.
How do I see it sitting here in the Essex sunshine at a pitch looking increasingly pale and straw coloured? Odds have to favour Essex but as we all know…it’s a funny old game!
One of the features of my tour Down Under was the unalloyed “pleasure”of listening to the chanting of the Barmy Army for the 25 days of the tests. Whilst interesting to those who attend for one day or for those who like incessant moronic singing and chanting, one small aspect did bring a smile to my face. A small battalion of the army are quite witty and tuneful and changing the lyrics of the Andy Williams hit ‘you’re too good to be true’ to extol the virtues of one Jonny Bairstow was quite funny. So whenever I hear that song and throughout this match when Bairstow was on the field, this earwig of music kept playing over and over in my head. But it was true of the match so far…you can’t take your eyes of the play for one second.
After 25 mins the first wicket falls…ten Doeschate lbw for 34 (looked like was well forward but…) and 124 more needed. Foster to the rescue?
But not this time…out for a duck.
It’s now down to Harmer and Siddle to knock it about a bit as we know they can whilst Lawrence who looks increasingly classy keeps the other end alive.
And Harmer fails too…still 124 needed to win and three wickets to take. Siddle to give it some welly no doubt but the odds must now be in Yorkshire’s favour?
And now Lawrence for a fine 32 with his middle stump removed! Looks like I’m going to be home in time for lunch!
At 126/9 and Porter gone for 3, I should be home for lunch! Hansie Cronje of SA infamy once said that you only need six balls to take six wickets when that’s all that you need, and whilst that’s Basil Fawlty obvious, it underscores that with luck and skill no match is ever beyond hope.
And so the end came at 1230 almost to the minute that the last wicket fell in the first innings on Friday. Essex lose by 91 runs and for the first time since 2016. Almost the difference between the sides in the first innings! How can a side dismissed for 50 runs in just under 100 minutes on the first day turn a match round and win? Well, they did through application, determination and Yorkshire grit. Essex were perhaps a little too complacent after the first morning. The batting didn’t really click in this match and perhaps psychologically it will do more for Yorkshire’s chances of taking the title than Essex’s at trying to keep it. Essex are off to Worcester this coming weekend whilst Yorkshire visit the Oval which beckons tomorrow for Surrey v Worcestershire.
It’s a funny old fixture list. It’s a funny old game but this one was just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off of you…