There was no county cricket in July of 2017, but Essex travelled to Scarborough in early August to restart their push to win Division 1,

August 

Yorkshire v Essex – Star Men – Ryan ten Doeschate, Mohammad Amir, Jamie Porter – Essex won by 8 wickets 

I was at Old Trafford watching England play South Africa for day 1 of this match, but I was watching wickets tumble during the day on the BBC App, I had 3 nights booked in Scarborough and was looking forward to spending time at the delightful ground.

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Mohammad  Amir took 5 wickets for 18 runs in Yorkshire’s first innings, That’s remarkable!  Jamie Porter joined him with 4 for 41.  Yorkshire made only 113 runs with opener Adam Lyth contributing 68!  That doesn’t leave many to go round.

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This was obviously a wicket that favoured the bowlers, but Essex made 231 thanks to captain Ryan ten Doeschate’s innings of 88, as I recall all 20 wickets fell on that first day!

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I made my way to Scarborough from Manchester and met up with my friend Stella, I travelled through rain, but found the weather to be pretty fine in Scarborough.  We sat amongst a few Yorkshire members and for e had one of the best moments of the summer when one such uttered ‘Oh Chuffing Norah!”  when Amir started to take wickets again.

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The Pakistan bowler was unplayable and took another 5fer, this time for a huge 54 runs. That adds up to 10 for 72 for Amir, his best First Class figures.  Another 3 for Jamie Porter took him to 7 for the match.  Jack Leaning played a very fine innings for Yorkshire, making 70, but they were still bowled out for 150.  Leaving Essex in need of 32 runs to win.

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They lost 2 wickets in pursuit of those runs, but, Dan Lawrence saw the visitors home, an emphatic win to say the least!

Essex v Somerset – Star Men – Nick Browne, Adam Wheater, Ryan ten Doeschate, Jamie Porter – Essex Won by 179 runs 

One of the joys of Essex becoming a Division 1 team was the chance to watch players I’d only really seen fleetingly.

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Essex won the toss and elected to bat, that didn’t go too well, Mr Consistent Nick Browne top scored with 44 and Essex were all out for 159.  Craig Overton, spoken about for England, took 4 for 40 and Paul van Meekeren 4 for 60.

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James Hildreth was a player I was looking forward to watching and he did look class with a bat, he top scored with 51, but his team were all out for 164, Jamie Porter took 5 for 40, another superb performance from the young bowler.

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There was nothing between the teams after their first innings, Essex fell to 8 for 2 with Varun Chopra out for 1 and Dan Lawrence a duck, it looked like we were going to have a further collapse.  But, Nick Browne dug in and scored an impressive 83, Adam Wheater contributed 88 and Ryan ten Doeschate 67.  Mohammad Amir who’d made a very useful 22 in the first innings was unable to bat due to injury and Essex finished their innings on 293 for 9, a decent lead.

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Jamie Porter bowled 14 overs, 2 of them were maidens, he took 7 wickets for 55 runs and Simon Harmer claimed the other 3 in his 15.5 overs for a mere 29 runs.  Job done, Somerset were all out for 109.  I knew about Craig Overton and James Hildreth by the end of the match, Somerset knew about our young bowler Jamie!

September 

Lancashire v Essex – Star Man – Jamie Porter – Match Drawn

There’s not too much to say on this one, it was a match Essex really needed some points from if they were to win that title.  Essex elected to bowl, with the weather looking poor that was a good bid to gain some bowling points.  Lancashire made 290, with young Haseeb Hameed scoring 88 and young Jamie Porter taking another 5 wickets, for 73 runs in his 24 overs.

Ryan ten Doeschate declared when Essex were 202 for 8, tactical?  I should imagine so, there was no further play and the match was drawn, Essex took home some points to add to their tally and kept their unbeaten record.

 

Hampshire v Essex – Star Men – Jamie Porter, Sam Cook, Dan Lawrence, Ravi Bopara – Essex Won by 108 runs 

Well, this was a funny old game!  Essex again elected to bowl, James Vince, 60 and George Bailey with 89 helped take the home team to 254, the wickets were shared out with 4 for Jamie Porter, 3 for Simon Harmer and 2 for new boy Sam Cook.

Essex’s first innings was, to say the least, a disaster!  All Out for 76, Ryan ten Doeschate top scored with 26.  Kyle Abbot ran through the batting line up taking 6 for 20 in 11 overs.  Was that unbeaten record going to be smashed out of the Ageas Bowl?

Naturally Essex were put into bat again and fell to 81 for 3, leaving Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara at the crease.  Dan scored 101 and Ravi 57, James Foster added a helpful 47 and Essex reached a total of 362 All Out.  Was that a lead they could defend?

In a bizarre twist, Hampshire were themselves All Out for 76!  Young Sam Cook took 5 for 18, a remarkable spell of bowling by the lad I saw playing for Chelmsford in 2016, he had arrived and in some style!

 

Warwickshire v Essex – Star Men – Jamie Porter, Simon Harmer, Varun Chopra, Dan Lawrence, James Foster – Essex won by an innings and 56 runs 

With Essex closing in on the Championship this was an away trip that had to be made.  It was very strange being at Edgbaston with only a smattering of people, I’ve only ever been there when it’s full for England matches to the T20 Finals Day.  This would be the match that would see Essex confirmed as Champions and Warwickshire confirmed as relegated, the emotions for the 2 teams couldn’t have been more polar.

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Essex again elected to bowl, Dominance Sibley, a new recruit for Hampshire was really the only one to show good resistance, he scored an entertaining 76 helping his team to just 201, both Jamie Porter and Simon Harmer took 4 wickets.

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It’d been a bit of an up and down summer for Varun Chopra, but he scored 98 against his former team, Dan Lawrence added another 78 to his tally and James Foster 68.  Essex made 369 for 9 before declaring.  The weather was again an unknown factor, funny that in September!

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Warwickshire were All Out for 112 in their second innings, with Matthew Lamb top scoring with 35 a woeful performance from a team on its knees.  The wickets were shared round, with 4 for Simon Harmer and 3 apiece for Sam Cook And Jamie Porter.

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It was the game that confirmed Essex as champions, but the game finished on Day 3 and we had to wait for other results on Day 4, so we’d wait for the final game at the County Ground to celebrate.

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I do have to add that the welcome from Warwickshire members was a very warm one, it was great to be able to see more of this great ground and chat to fellow cricket fans.

 

Essex v Yorkshire – Star Men – Simon Harmer, Nick Browne, Dan Lawrence, Sam Cook – Essex won by 376 runs

Yorkshire had suffered a torrid time at the hands of Mohammad Amir in Scarborough, they must have been relieved when he was called back to Pakistan before this final match of the season.

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Yorkshire elected to bowl and made good inroads into the Essex batting line up, Simon Harmer features as a star man in this game for his batting, he was the top scorer in the first innings with 64 and was 58 not out in the second innings.  Essex were all out for 227.

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Yorkshire had 2 more horror shows on the batting front, being all out for 111 in their first innings with Jamie Porter, Simon Harmer and Neil Wagner taking 3 apiece and Wagner running Gary Ballance out.

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It would be a case of when Essex declared in their second innings rather than if.  Nick Browne scored 83 as did Dan Lawrence, Ryan ten Doeschate made 57 and as mentioned Simon Harmer had another good innings.  The captain declared when Essex were 334 for 7.

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Along came horror show number 4 for Yorkshire against Essex, this time Sam Cook at just 20 year of age demolished their batting line up, he took 5 for 20 and Yorkshire were all out for 74!

County Championship Division 1 Winners Essex County Cricket Club! 

I’ve written reams across two articles and posted photos galore, it’s been great for me to look back on a wonderful season for Essex.  It was a season where so many players stood up and put in top performances.  Without doubt having Alastair Cook in the team for 7 matches made a difference, he brings a sense of calm as well as runs.  What was obvious to see from the stands was the team spirit, it was plain to see these men wanted to win for each other, and they went through the summer unbeaten.

8 players scored a century

Runs    HS          AV    100’s   50’s

  • Nick Browne                952      221       43.27     1        5
  • Dan Lawrence             761      141*     44.76     3        3
  • Alastair Cook               667      193       58.05     3        1
  • Ryan ten Doeschate   659       168*     61.19     1        4
  • Ravi Bopara                 576       192      42.29      1        2
  • Tom Westley                561       111      43.15
  • Varun Chopra              372       100*    28.62      1        1
  • James Foster                357       121      29.75      1         1

 

With the loss of 2 Essex legends at the end of the 2016 season with Graham Napier and David Masters retiring it had been a concern that there’d be a weakness in the bowling department. On the contrary, the County recruited well and home grown bowler Jamie Porter topped the Championship bowling table with 75 wickets and Simon Harmer wasn’t far behind with 72. 5 bowlers took at least a 5fer –

Overs       Maidens     Runs     Wickets    Av        Best

  • Jamie Porter                     399             89               1262         75         16.83    7-55
  • Simon Harmer                 521.3        121               1381         72         19.19    9-95
  • Neil Wagner                     316.4         54                 1095         31         35.32    6-48
  • Sam Cook                          99.4           24                   286         18         15.89     5-18
  • Mohammad Amir           76.2           19                   189         14          13.5       5-18

 

Every player made a contribution to the season, it was a major team effort.  Chris Silverwood, surely one of the nicest people in the game built something special in Chelmsford, hopefully they can carry on in the way he started in the coming season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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