2022 was a very mixed year as an Essex fan, the County Ground couldn’t quite gets things right wicket wise and we went from an opening County Championship match against Kent which saw 1095 runs scored over 2 innings at the cost of 19 wickets, there was naturally no time left for a result. There were 5 centuries, 3 for Essex and 2 for Kent. Matt Critchley on his Essex debut scored 132 runs. Kent used 7 bowlers and Essex 8, including an over from Sir Alastair Cook!

I’m a nailed on red ball cricket fan, but I found this starting CC game dull, I must confess. However I still managed to find some photos I count amongst my favourites for 2022, including a close up of Darren Stevens in his final year at Kent.

Work commitments meant I missed out on away games mostly in 2022 and the next 2 were against Somerset in Taunton, where 527 runs were scored across 4 innings. Sir A as I’ll call him from here on top scored in Essex’s first innings with 59 from 125 balls. That was likely instrumental in a win for Essex. Craig Overton must have felt bereft, he took 7 for 57 then 67 for 30 and ended up on the losing side!!

Essex headed to Edgbaston to play Champions Warwickshire next, In spite of 80 from captain Tom Westley they were bowled out for just 168. Warwicks keeper Michael Burgess scored more than that on his own, making 170!, helping his team to 385. Essex fared better in their 2nd innings with 323, with a useful 75 from Simon Harmer. But It took Warwicks just 37.4 overs to get a 10 wicket win.

May 1st saw Northants at Chelmsford, they’d capitulated in 2021 but put up a much better display, Luke Proctor scored 113 and Gareth Berg 75, they made 390 in 141.4 overs. In reply Essex were bowled out for 193, they followed on, batting for 145 over, making 328, Paul Walter making 93 from 246 balls.

My next seat of photos feature Yorkshire, we were back to big first innings scores, Essex batted for 156.3 overs and Sir A scored 107 from 268 balls, Park Walter went further than his previous innings with 141. Essex scored 403. In reply Yorkshire had their own century maker, the hugely talented Harry Brook, he scored 123, David Malan 87 and Joe Root 75 as they went past Essex to 465. The Essex openers put on 167 with a second century for Sir A and another nailed on Draw. .

The Vitality Blast kicked off at the end of May, I had a season ticket for yet County Ground, but missed Surrey’s visit through Covid, I travelled to Canterbury to watch Essex kick off with a win. Overall they won 9. lost 4 and had one match rained off. That took them to a quarter final at Old Trafford where the campaign ended. Michael Pepper was the Eagles top scorer with 439 runs at an average of 36.58, I very much enjoyed the Blast campaign and the biggest highlight for me was watching Pakistan keeper score an effortless 66 from 32 balls opening for Sussex. Sam Northeast played an excellent innings for Hants scoring 97 from 56 balls, also in a losing cause. He deserved his century, but went on to a record score in the County Championship later in the season.

We had one CC game sandwiched in the midst of the Blast, that saw Hampshire visiting the County Ground and a 12 runs win for Essex. Shane Snater, who had a fabulous 2022 top scored with 71 from 73 balls. Simon Harmer took 15 wickets in the match.

August came and it was One Day Cup time – Essex won 3, lost 4 and had 1 no result, finishing 6th in their table. This was a chance for the young Essex players to shine. With one Grant Roelofsen in the country playing for Billericay making his mark with the bat. He top scored for Essex with 355 at an average of 59.16. Tom Westley scored 335 at 47.85 and Feroze Khushi wasn’t far behind with 324 at an average of 46.28, he scored a century against Hants as did Westley to add to his century against Kent.

.The County Championship was back for September, with 4 matches. Essex had a big win at Canterbury to kick the month off, Feroze Khushi scored 164 and Matt Critchley 90 as Essex scored 573. Essex then bowled Kent out for 164 and 149, Sam Cook took 10 wickets in the match. And Essex won by an innings and 260 runs.

Next up was Headingley and a much closer match, Essex won by 1 wicket as Shane Snater scored an important 65 not out. The last home match of the season couldn’t have been more of a contrast to the first as wickets galore fell! This match lasted less than 2 days with just 125 overs bowled. The batting was largely woeful as Lancashire made 131 and 73, Essex made a huge 107 and 59. There were calls for pitch inspectors and points deductions, but that didn’t happen. This was probably the result that cost Essex 3rd place.

Overall it wasn’t the best of summers for Essex, but several young players made a name for themselves and Shane Snater in particular really grew as a player. He scored 463 CC runs and took 36 wickets at 24.61. Sam Cook took 51 at 16.23 ands Simon Harmer 59 at 20.67.

I did see some international cricket in 2022, I picked the 2 India white ball games that `England lost heavily, travelling to Edgbaston for a T20, when I’d booked a 50 over game, England were bowled out in 17 overs for 121 and lost by 49 runs. I also picked the ODI at the Oval where I saw England bowled out in 25.2 overs, they scored 110 and India reached the required total in 18.4 overs. This was not good value international cricket!

I had an afternoon at the Commonwealth Games watching India against Pakistan, a good afternoon with friends and another India win.

I went to the Oval for a day at the England v South Africas test, I’d booked because I though Simon Harmer might be playing, sadly he wasn’t. But I enjoyed my day at the Test! It’s always a delight to watch Jimmy Anderson in action.

In spite of the EBCB’s ‘best efforts’ we still have 14 County Championship games, the Blast takes place from May 30 through to the beginning of July, with a CC match sandwiched in the middle. The Blast Final is on July 15th. The One Day Cup runs from August 1st through to August 22nd, with the Final taking place on September 10th. Roll on the first CC match at the County Ground on April 13th.

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