Where to start with this one? Two captains made a decision to put their opposition in to bat this week, one, Tim Paine, won the toss at The Oval and put England to bat, a ground which is notorious for good batting strips that seemed a strange decision from moment one. England were bowled out for 294 and Australia for 225, so it remains to be seen how costly that decision was.

At Edgbaston, Ryan ten Doeschate as captain of the visiting team put Warwickshire in to bat. In 2 days at The Oval 528 runs were scored. In one innings that covered most of the first 2 days 517 runs were scored. The ramifications of that decision were much clearer to see after 2 days.

There had been only 5 County Championship matches at Edgbaston in 2019, before this one, did they give any indication of what the decision should’ve been? Bearing in mind there was no guarantee Essex would’ve won any toss had it happened.

  • 14 April v Kent – Kent won the toss and elected to bat, scoring 504 for 9
  • 17 May v Hampshire – Warwickshire won the toss and elected to bat – they were All Out for 354
  • 30 May v Surrey – Surrey put Warwickshire in to bat – they were All Out for 293
  • 6 June v Notts – Warwickshire won the toss and elected to bat – they declared on 391 for 9
  • 21 August v Somerset – Warwickshire won the toss and elected to bat – they were All Out for 419

Ryan ten Doeschate may have rued his decision at the toss

So, a mixed bag on batting first at Edgbaston this summer. I was looking forward to watching Dom Sibley bat, he didn’t disappoint, he batted for 197 minutes, facing 158 balls, scoring 51 runs. Those runs took the 24 year old to 1,000 runs at an average of 55.56 for the summer with 2 matches remaining.

Sam Hain is another name put forward by county cricket fans when the subject of potential England batsmen comes up. I didn’t;t know too much about him and thought he was a stronger white ball player. But he too played a very patient innings, he faced 197 balls, batting for 271 minutes and making 82 runs. Another 24 year old having a good season, he’s up to 730 runs at an average of 48.67.

So, two very good innings, but it was a 23 year old who had played a Man of the Match innings for Warwickshire. Matthew Lamb, in only his 15th First Class match he scored his first Century, he batted for 7 hours, facing 371 balls, scoring 173 runs! I am an Essex fan through and through, but I was willing him to his 200, but that wasn’t to be.

This was an innings of 50 partnerships, and No Balls, oh and a spinner who’d taken 65 wickets before this match. The first part first –

  • Will Rhodes/Dom Sibley – 87 partership
  • Sam Hain/Matthew Lamb – 150
  • Lamb/Henry Brookes – 105
  • Lamb/Ryan Patel – 66

There were a couple of partnerships in the high 40’s too. The No Balls stat saw more No Balls given than I’ve ever seen, although the 18 in the book was to be exceeded in the Essex innings!

Simon Harmer, the Essex spin king, bowled 59.5 overs out of the 175.5 bowled, that’s over 33%! He took 6 wickets for 143 and took 2 cathches, one of which I managed to capture, it was a corker! Essex used 8 bowlers in this Warwickshire innings, there was the rare sight of the captain having a bowl.

As the Warwickshire innings was coming to a close it was strange to hear some of their own fans hoping for a wicket! There was even a small cheer as George Garrett fell to Harmer. The time taken by the last couple of stands almost certainly took away any chance for Essex to win, and to be fair to Patel, his team lost to Somerset having scored that 419. With Notts on the way to a loss against Kent a draw was all Warwickshire needed to ensure another year in Division 1.

With Somerset having been bowled out for under 200 by Yorkshire they were fighting back to end with a win, therefore for Essex to keep them in their sights they needed a draw for those 5 valuable points.

They needed to bat patiently and build partnerships, that thought wasn’t helped when Alastair Cook was caught by Sibley, a great catch! He was out for 7 and Essex were 31 for 1. With few overs left in the day Sam Cook came in as nightwatchman, he survived the few balls remaining but was out for 4 in the morning.

That left Essex with Nick Browne and Tom Westley at the crease, 2 players used to batting together they put on 106, Browne was trapped LBW by Patel for 65, he’d batted for nearly 4 hours, just what Essex needed.

This match was one that saw a lot of spin, Patel bowled 45.3 overs and took 6 wickets himself for 73 runs, a decent return. Essex only had one more 50 plus partnership, between Lawrence and Westley. But Tom Westley contributed 141 runs after batting for over 6 hours, his first century of the summer coming at a key time. Essex’s innings came to a close with 324 runs on the board. They hadn’t made their 300 in the 110 overs, but had given themselves every chance of the draw. Nor had they made enough to avoid the follow on and were put straight back in.

By this point I was back in Essex so didn’t see how things played out, but I did keep a close eye from afar. At the start of the innings Browne was out for a Duck from the 4th ball of the innings, 0 for 1 wasn’t the best of starts. But, Westley was clearly in the mood to bat long and patiently, he fell just short of a second century, falling to Lamb, the 7th bowler used by Warwickshire, he was caught by Patel. Alastair Cook stayed with him all day, batting for 219 minutes he occupied the crease and carried his bat with 57 runs to his name. Dan Lawrence faced 2 balls to see the game to its close. And a draw was the end result.

Those valuable points see Essex sitting second just 8 points behind Somerset who they face in the final game of the season at Taunton. Before that Somerset travel to Hampshire and Essex host Surrey.

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