With 2020 here, this is a good time to look back on a great summer for Essex, one that ended with them lifting the County Champions Trophy! This is my 2019 Wickets, Shots and Joy post!

The season started with a loss at Hampshire for Essex, with Hampshire scoring a huge 525 for 8, I wasn’t there to see one of my favourite non-Essex players Sam Northeast score 169.

My first match, and therefore first set of photos was the match at The Oval, Surrey scored 395 in their first innings. Ryan Patel scored 100 from 278 balls, it was slow and steady and very well played. Ryan ten Doeschate played a captain’s innings of 130 from 166 balls for Essex as they scored 448 and Surrey 324 for 6 in their second innings. The match was a draw.

Next up was a run of Royal London Cup games, with Nottinghamshire being the first opponents at the County Ground in the Championship. Notts were bowled out for 187 and 158. Essex scored 241 and 105 for 2 to win the game by 8 wickets. A mention for Luke Fletcher who took 5 for 50 in Essex’s first innings.

Arch rivals Kent were up next for Essex; Sir Alastair scored 125 from 242 balls in Essex’s first innings as they scored 313. Kent were then bowled out for 182 with the wickets being shared. Cook scored another 90 runs and Essex declared on 206 for 7. That man Simon Harmer struck again and took 8 for 98 as Kent were bowled out for 224. Essex won by 113 runs. I’ve got lots of celebration photos of Simon, but not for this game.

My World Cup Travels really kicked in after this match, meaning I missed most of the next 4 matches. Essex drew against Yorkshire, then beat Hampshire at home by an innings and 8 runs, they then beat Somerset in Chelmsford by 151 runs. A decent return in June. Harmer took 5 for 23 in Hampshire’s first innings, and 7 for 38 in their second. Jamie Porter took 5 for 51 and 4 for 22 against Somerset, Aaron Beard took 4 for 23 and 3 for 22 in the same match.

In the only CC game in July Essex beat Notts away by an innings and 123 runs. Essex scored a huge 519 for 9, with Nick Browne scoring 163 from 370 balls and Ravi Bopara making 135 from 242 balls. The wickets were shared across the board.

August saw just one County Championship match, squeezed in the middle of the T20 Blast, and it was a big one, Essex travelled to the Spitfire Ground at Canterbury to take on old rivals Kent. I was there with my friend Stella for the duration. I have a soft spot for Kent and a few of their players, so this one has a lot of photos to pick from.

Having announced his retirement from test cricket Amir gave Essex one more red ball game, he’s become a favourite of mine since his return and he gave Essex fans something to cheer about in Canterbury. He took 4 for 48 and 2 for 16 , but the story of the match bowling wise was Sam Cook, he was quite simply incredible in Kent’s second innings and took 5 for 42 in their first.

Kent scored 226 in their first innings in spite of some great Essex bowling. There was a hint of a second championship in three years at this point and 226 didn’t feel like a problem, until Essex were bowled out for just 114. Amir top scored with an important 28 runs.

What happened next was quite remarkable, Kent were bowled out for 40! Sam Cook took 7 for 23 in his 9 overs, it really looked like was going to take a wicket with every ball! Kent lasted for just 18.1 overs, no one got into double figures.

Essex would surely now win this match? Well, they kept us on the edge of our seats, they needed 152 to win, and managed to do so, but for the loss of 7 wickets! Simon Harmer hadn’t got his name in the scorebook with any wickets but he had an invaluable partnership with Adam Wheater for that 7th wicket. They put on 57, both finishing with 30 apiece. There was something right about Amir scoring the winning runs as he did.

September brought a trip to Edgbaston, and a valuable draw for Essex. this match really was the story of the young Warwickshire batsmen as they put on 517. Dom Sibley scored 51 from 158 balls, Sam Hain 82 from 197 but it was Matthew Lamb with his first century who really impressed, he scored 173 from 371 balls, batting for 420 minutes.

Amidst the batting carnage Simon Harmer took 6 for 143 bowling a ball short of 60 overs, he also took a great slips catch, I was close to going on the field to show the umpires the proof when Michael Burgess stood his ground!

Tom Westley did the job for Essex scoring 141 from 266 balls in the first innings and 97 from 161 in the second, he saved the game.

Surrey were next up at the County Ground, two of Essex’s own, Sam Cook and Jamie Porter did for Surrey in their first innings, with Porter taking 5 for 62 and Cook 5 for 53, they were bowled out for 174.

In reply Essex scored 395, with Dan Lawrence making 147 from 245 balls, and giving me my favourite photo of the summer in his delight at reaching his century. Ryan ten Doeschate, who seems to enjoy batting against Surrey scored his own century, 103 from 122 balls.

Simon Harmer had the biggest say in Surrey’s second innings taking 7 for 58 in 34.2 overs as they were bowled out for 181. Essex won this penultimate match by an innings and 40 runs.

That was my last match of the summer, but Essex travelled to Somerset, where the weather and a wicket that has since seen Somerset deducted 24 points, with 12 for 2020 and 12 suspended, intervened. A draw was what Essex needed to win their second Championship in 3 years. Somerset were bowled out for 203, with Simon Harmer taking 5 for 105. Essex were then bowled out for 141, Jack Leach taking 5 for 32. In an attempt to get the result they needed Somerset forfeited their second innings. Essex reached 45 for 1 in their second before the late September weather decided the result.

Essex’s best performers for the year were –

  • Simon Harmer – 595.5 overs bowled – 175 maidens – 83 wickets taken at an average of 18.28
  • Jamie Porter – 391.2 overs – 83 maidens – 48 wickets at 25.7
  • Peter Siddle – 263.4 overs – 72 maidens – 34 wickets at 20.08
  • Sam Cook – 235.5 overs – 61 maidens – 32 wickets at 21.03
  • Sir Alastair Cook – 913 runs at 45.65
  • Tom Westley – 794 runs at 36.09
  • Dan Lawrence – 725 runs at 38.15
  • Nick Browne – 604 runs at 27.45

2020 sees the introduction of the 100 across the best summer months, but more County Cricket over weekend days which will hopefully be a positive. After 18 years at Essex Ravi Bopara has moved to Sussex, which is a tough pill to take, but I wish him every success. Both Peter Siddle and Adam Zampa return to Essex as they look to defend both their County Championship and T20 titles.

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