A glorious English summers day – sun, no rain, slight breeze…almost warm enough to take your pullover off – had the potential for Essex to turn the screws against Hampshire, leading by 25 overnight with seven wickets in hand.
Hampshire started quietly- well the bowling did anyway for about 40 minutes – but the chirping from the team was one of the loudest and longest I’ve heard for a long time. Consistent, persistent and a team effort all round.
Three overs after the first change – Fuller in the main – brought a swift change. Lawrence progressed in style with a cover drive to die for – in the style of Cowdrey, Graveny, Gower et al – and reached his half century. All seemed set for batting until tomorrow when the wheels started to come off. Bopara and Lawrence left in quick succession.
One feature of the game has been the high number and proportion of leg before decisions from both umpires; not necessarily all as correct as they should be, but then spectators are 100m away and it’s a lot easier watching! And ok…they must be correct since it says so in the scorebook; but my old school report for PE said ‘excellent effort this term’ but I’d had my arm in plaster all term and had not done any PE lessons at all! So it must be right!!
But the lack of application and patience leads to an Essex collapse in cheap style! If Hampshires five for 24 yesterday was bad, Essex managed to beat that with six for 19…the lower orders seem to hold their wickets cheap and lacked any adhesive qualities. All this means Essex are dismissed just before lunch for 214 – a lead of 96.
Of the 20 wickets to fall so far, 12 have been leg before…an unusually high percentage!
When Aaron Beard is your #9 ahead of Porter and Cook SJ then you know you have a long tail. Aaron attended the secondary school I worked at (not teaching!) and it’s clear from his batting stance of feet pointing at 90 degree angles that there’s something not quite right about cricket tuition in schools! Anyway, he doesn’t last long…
So Hampshire have a nasty period before lunch to negotiate and lose opener Alsop for 2 and lunch at 5/1 – and yes, you’ve guessed, out leg before!
Half way through the afternoon session finds Hampshire 35/7 Harmers taking 5/11 so far helped by such inept batting that you wouldn’t believe! Northeast stumped, Rossouw caught sweeping badly and Rahane (who I’d really wanted to see) out first ball after lunch nibbling outside the off stump! He’s lasted three balls in two innings. The crassness of the batting beggars belief. These three were the most guilty of poor application!
And so it continued…inept, pathetic, awful – do not do the batting justice. Weatherly carries his bat for 29 after a short stands with Abbott and Crane but the inevitable arrives just before tea – Hampshire all our 88 and lose by an innings and 8 runs; I wonder whether this is one of the worst defeats ever seen? Losing by an innings when the opposition only scored 214?
First class this was not; 17 wickets falling in just under two sessions today; the whole match over in just under five sessions – I feel short changed but not as much as the hospitality tents which were empty until just before 3pm when numbers arrived in droves for a barbecue/afternoon tea and it was all done and dusted in under 45 minutes!
The last wicket (Fidel Edwards) falls to leg before (the 15th of the three innings game) and the 12th wicket of the match for Harmer (12 for 61).
Little to chirp about at the end but when you sell your wickets cheap, this is what you get! I wonder if the ECB regard this as cheap too or just an extra long version of the Hundred? Seemed like it.