Day 2 of this County Championship game was in a way strange as an Essex member/fan, the day started with 2 bonus points showing on the scoreboard for Essex, they needed another 3 together with Sussex failing to gain maximum batting points to guarantee the holy grail of promotion to Division 1.
The focus was on those bonus points rather than on necessarily winning the match, although that of course would be a huge added bonus. After a collapse on day 1 two young batsmen Kiran Carlson and Owen Morgan had frustrated Essex as far as bowling points were concerned. Carlson had reached 101, the youngest Glamorgan player to reach his century at 18 and Morgan 51. Glamorgan finished the day on 256 for 7.
Essex needed wickets and fast when play started on day 2 having bowled 82 overs on Day 1. Worryingly Graham Napier wasn’t on the field, he was being assessed for a calf injury leaving the bowling line up looking light.
Jamie Porter one of Essex’s bright young stars despatched Morgan, sending his stumps flying, one down 1 to go for that valuable point. Having taken 7 wickets in an innings against Worcestershire old hand David Masters hadn’t had any luck in this game, I’d just commented as such when Carlson lifted his bat and top edged a ball from Masters to James Foster, his wonderful innings was over, I’d hoped he’d carry his bat, he certainly deserved to, but it wasn’t to be and Essex now had 3 of the 5 points they needed.
Michael Hogan was out for a golden duck caught by Varun Chopra leaving David Masters on a hat trick – that he’ll have to go for in Glamorgan’s second innings. Glamorgan were all out for 286.
Essex’s next task was to reach 250 runs, a number of batsmen have been in fine for this season, with Tom Westley reaching a double century in his last outing, Ravi Bopara 99 and Ryan ten Doeschate a century that felt like a highly do’able task.
However along came Craig Meschede to ruin Essex’s party, he caught Varun Chopra LBW for 1 and Essex were 16 for 1, not a great comeback for the new signing, enter Tom Westley, he made 4 before edging a ball to Mark Wallace, 21 for 2, this wasn’t going well for the home side. Dan Lawrence joined Nick Browne but did’t have his company for long, Meschede struck again with the same modus operandi – Browne was out for 22, caught by Wallace – and in their bid to reach 250 Essex were now 34 for 3.
Timm van der Gusten took the wicket of Dan Lawrence, a young batsman who was named as England’s U19’s player earlier in the year and had made 775 runs for Essex made only 9 before he was caught by Aneurin Donald – disaster felt like it was looming – Essex were 63 for 4.
In came another new boy, returned, Adam Wheater, I’d seen Adam bat on my first visit to Essex and witnessed him scoring a century, I was very disappointed when he moved to Hampshire although I understood his frustration at playing second fiddle when it came to the wicketkeepers gloves. Could he build an innings? He was batting with Ravi Bopara who’d found his innate skill and patience in his last innings, both seemed to be going along well until Glamorgan brought Owen Morgan on to bowl.
Bopara danced down the wicket to his first ball and the words out of my mouth were ‘Ravi’s looking to get stumped’ 5 balls later – Bopara was indeed stumped and out for 25, Essex were on 85 for 5 and 250 runs looked a long way away.
Along came captain Ryan ten Doeschate, he and Wheater batted well together putting on 100 runs in some style before Wheater skied a ball from Morgan giving Nick Selman a relatively easy catch, he’d scored a very useful 52 runs. Wheater was furious with himself but back to the pavilion it was. 185 for 6 and 65 runs to go. James Foster joined his captain in the centre.
These 2 have saved the day more than once for their county and on this occasion they were to win the day. It felt like the 65 runs were going to be scored in singles but what these 2 did was ensure they got to the landmark while safeguarding their wickets. I’m sure that every Essex fan in the ground was on a countdown as the score slowly reached 200 – 4 bonus points, counting down the 50 runs needed. It almost felt like a white ball game being played in whites, would they get there on day 2 or would we have to wait another day?
Ryan ten Doeschate was approaching his 100 as Essex were approaching the 250 – the bonus point was reached before the century and the whole ground erupted – It was particularly pleasing to see the Glamorgan players joining in with the applause. Essex were Division 2 Champions and had won promotion to the big time in 2017.
The captain had a century to get and after a few moments ten Doeschate and Foster got back to the job in hand, putting their team in a position to get the win, it was good to see Foster hug his team mate and friend when the captain made his century, he received the well deserved plaudits of the crowd and again the opposition. The day finished with Essex on 275 for 6 trailing by 11 runs.