When I collected my tickets for Australia’s visit to the County Ground I was very hopeful that I’d be able to spend a good part of my Saturday watching them in action.

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Some of me thought it might be done and dusted by then, but Essex made a good competition of  the game and the day started with Essex needing 2 wickets.

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My day started with breakfast in Costa with my lovely cricket friends Tina and Stella – as well as a probably largely unhealthy start we also laughed our socks off!  A really good start to the day!

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We made our way to the ground and settled ourselves in the same seats as the day before – front row of the Tom Pearce stand – great for taking photos and the added benefit of sunshine too!

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Jamie Porter made quick work of the final 2 wickets bowling Peter Siddle for 19 then Nathan Lyon for a Duck!  Caught by Ryan ten Doeschate.   Australia were all out for 212 – a great effort by a young Essex team!

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They were however set the task of making 369 with a line up of 9; 2 of their young batsmen were injured earlier in the game.

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I met Nick Browne on Day 3, his finger looked more than a bit ouch!  He’d dislocated it taking Mitchell Starc’s wicket with a catch!  The bone had gone through the skin, a nasty injury that meant he and a bat wouldn’t be a good plan!

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Tom Westley who’d made a great 144 in Essex’s 1st innings had been hit in the ribs with a ball, he therefore couldn’t be part of the line up either.

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369 with a full line up would have been a big task, with 2 key batsmen missing it would be a very big ask.

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Jessie Ryder had failed in the 1st innings and came to the crease in determined mood!  He is after all a world class cricketer.  His opening partner Jaik Mickleburgh was a good foil but he was out for 4 – LBW to Josh Hazelwood.

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In the meantime Ryder was hitting out 0 he scored 37 runs from 19 balls – including seven 4’s and an almighty 6!  He was however dismissed in spectacular fashion as Mitchell Starc knocked out his middle stump!

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Ravi Bopara had come in at 3 and was joined promptly by Ryan ten Doeschate – the 2 of them were in place with Essex on 43 for 2.

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Both Bopara and ten Doeschate played a patient innings giving Essex a chance, and I imagine frustrating the visitors.

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Bopara was out LBW to the bowling of Starc having scored 42 runs from 78 balls. There had been several lively appeals before the final successful ball!  They were I have to say pretty entertaining!

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James Foster was next in – he faced only 12 balls before Michael Clarke caught him from the bowling of Starc with not a run to his name.

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At this point it did feel slightly like lambs to the slaughter – Matt Salisbury made 8 before he was caught by Peter Nevill – the other tall bloke – Hazelwood being the bowler.

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Aron Nijjar was next up, he looks a very promising prospect.  Ten Doeschate had been patiently adding runs and had made 61 from 102 balls including nine 4’S and a 6 before he too fell to Hazelwood – LBW.

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Jamie Porter saw Hazelwood with a hat trick ball as he too was given out LBW – a Golden Duck to his name.

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That left just one more batsman with Essex on 174 for 8.  Tom Moore scored a spirited 16 including two well received 6’s – another memory made for the man who took the wicket of the Australian captain in their 1st innings!

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Nijjar was the last man to fall having faced 40 balls and scoring 15 runs he was caught by Chris Rogers from the bowling of Nathan Lyon.

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And so on 200 for 9 that was Essex finished – what might have been if Westley and Browne had been fit?

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I was at the game for 1.5 days and thoroughly enjoyed it – next up for Australia?  The Ashes in Cardiff!  I’ll there for Days 3 and 4 – here’s hoping the series is a competitive one!

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Lots of photos in this ‘episode’ I just can’t help myself when I have top call cricket in front of me!  As a comment it looked as if Shane Watson was giving himself a mini yoga session throughout – goodness he threw some shapes!

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Oh, and before I forget we had the amazing sight of 9 men behind the wicket for a couple of overs – I have no idea what you’d call that!  It was a sight to behold!

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