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And so the County Cricket season is here and Essex are in Division 1!  A week after the fact this is going to be photos heavy, but a few words about the match and cricket in general.  I have to come back as I add the photos in, I don’t seem to be capable of just a few words 🙂

My daughter was visiting from Paris and I gave her a lift into town on my way to the Cloud FM County Ground, on the way she asked me just what it is I love about cricket.  I found it very hard to put into words, but I’ll try my best here.

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My Dad played cricket so I was brought up at the side of a cricket pitch, running around playing with my brothers and friends until I was old enough to take over the score book, no making sandwiches for me, I scored once I was old enough to  know what I was doing.  In reality I think I only went to a professional game once or twice, my Dad took me to a Benson & Hedges Final Essex played in and won and a day at Lords for an England match against the West Indies I think.

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I married 2 men, at different times, who didn’t like cricket so the game was out of my life for a while, but, since I’ve been on my own I’ve found a renewed passion for all things cricket. I was given a ticket to watch Essex play one Sunday afternoon in 2011 and really haven’t looked back since.  I saw Adam Wheater score a century that afternoon, with James Foster keeping him company, a passion was renewed.

I joined Essex as a member the following year, I was still working at that time, but school holidays meant I was still able to watch a fair amount of cricket.  So what is it about the game, a game that’s almost a polar opposite to the rugby I love so much.  It’s a game on innate skill, a team sport most definitely, especially when in the field, yet the batsman pretty much stands alone when he walks to the wicket.  It becomes a Test between the bat at ball, batsman and bowler, the 5 day international game is aptly named.

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Leather against Willow, there’s nothing to compare to seeing a ball sent straight back to the boundary past the bowler after hitting the middle of the bat, and by the same token seeing a stump fly as the ball hits.  Seeing a fielder run across the field to stop a ball going for 4, of flying in the air to take a great catch.  There are so many facets to the game I love, a batsman grinding out a draw when the game looks lost, or a bowler getting a hat-trick to alter the likely result.  The people I meet at rugby as well as the friends I attend the games with at times are another huge added bonus!

Try explaining to a non cricket fan the joy of watching a game for 4 or 5 days with a draw as the result, this first Essex game in Division 1 was one such game.  With rugby union and Saracens still on my agenda and the wedding of 2 good friends I was only able to attend Days 1 and 3 of this game, as you can see that didn’t stop me taking lots of photos! How would Essex fare in this ‘new world’? The game was billed as Cook vs Anderson, but Alastair wasn’t available due to an injury, we did however have his likely England opening partner playing for Lancashire, I was keen to get my first look at Haseeb Hameed.

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The young batsman didn’t disappoint, he knows when to leave a ball that lad, he also knows when to attack a loose ball, he scored a very patient 47 fro 103 balls, he’s just what England need at the top of the order, a player who takes his time and who won’t throw his wicket away.  he fell to Jamie Porter  who hit his stumps on the one ball he did misjudge and leave.

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The pick of the Lancashire batsmen was Dane Vilas, batting at 5 he made 74 from 101 balls.  The pick of the Essex Bowlers was the 19 year old Aaron Beard who took 3 wickets for 47 runs.  Lancashire were all out for a creditable 319 after bowling partners Kyle Jarvis and Jimmy Anderson put on 51 runs for the last wicket.

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And so it was time for Jimmy in his bowling mode, people often quote the difference in bowling as the reason not many batsmen make it into the national set up from Division 2, it has to be said the Essex batsmen didn’t fare too well in their first innings.  Nick Browne was out caught behind by Alex Davies from the bowling of Jarvis, with not much of the day remaining Aaron Beard was sent in as the sacrificial lamb, otherwise known as the Night Watchman.  He faced 7 balls before he edged an Anderson ball to Davies, Essex were 25 for 2.  Tom Westley came to the crease to see out the day.

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I was at Wembley on Day 2 watching Saracens beat Harlequins but kept track from afar.  Essex were all out for 159 with Ravi Bopara making 46 and Dan Lawrence 37.  The wickets were shared around with Anderson taking 3 for 53 and Stephen Parry 3 for 28.

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Lancashire made 317 for 3 in their 2nd innings, with their diminutive wicket keeper Alex Davies making 140 from 265 balls and Vilas shining again with 92 from 165 balls a lead of 477 runs.

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The doom mongers had this game down as a seat cert win for the visitors and under the circumstances that probably wasn’t unreasonable.  However another young player, Dan Lawrence had different plans, his team were 52 for 2 with both openers falling, Tom Westley made a very useful 61 from 190 balls before being bowled by Parry,  Bopara and Wheater made 5 between them while Dan Lawrence was building his innings.  His captain kept him company as Ryan ten Doeschate made 41 from 110 balls, by the time he was out LBW to Jarvis Essex had moved to 300 for 6.  Lawrence made  wonderful 141 having faced 333 balls, that was one of those day long innings that saved the game for Essex and saw the game end in an unexpected draw.  Dan Lawrence is a talented young batsman who is a delight to watch, make a note of that name.

fullsizeoutput_5716fMy Essex Cricket ‘Buddies’ Tina and Stella

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