Cox and Critchley give Essex hope

Essex v Warwickshire – Vitality County Championship Division One – Cloud County Ground – Day Three – Report

Warwickshire 397 and 94

Essex 162 and 224 for four (74.0 overs)

Warwickshire won the toss and elected to bat

Essex requires 106 runs to win with six second-innings wickets standing

An unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 112 between Jordan Cox and Matt Critchley has put Essex back into contention following another fascinating day’s play at the Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford.

Cox faced 144 balls for his 77*. At the same time, Critchley is unbeaten on 46* as the home side fought back leaving them needing 106 to record what had earlier seemed an unlikely Vitality County Championship Division One victory over Warwickshire.

Dean Elgar played his part, scoring 60 as Essex looked to chase down a sizable target of 330. Despite slipping to 112 for four, Cox and Critchley have set up an interesting final day.

Earlier, Ed Barnard and Michael Burgess had given the visitors the initiative, each scoring centuries as Warwickshire recovered from 104 for six to post 397.

Barnard’s 165 came off 285 balls during a 407-minute stint at the crease. Meanwhile, Burgess contributed 108 from 170 – Their 209-run seventh-wicket stand carried Warwickshire towards a commanding position, despite the efforts of Shane Snater (25-8-58-3) and Simon Harmer (30-5-93-3).

The visitors’ bowling attack took control, with Che Simmons leading the way with three for 12, while Rob Yates had 3/27 as Essex were skittled for 162. Cox top-scored for Essex with 47 – his side 235 runs in arrears.

But Warwickshire didn’t force the follow-on. Essex seized their opportunity with both hands, bowling Warwickshire out inside thirty-eight overs for 94, with Critchley returning four for 24, while Harmer took his match figures to 6/121.

Speaking to Martin Smith from the ECB Reporters network, Essex captain, Tom Westley said: “Obviously it’s been a fantastic day for Essex, to bowl them out as cheaply as we did and then to be 224 for four at the close is a fantastic effort by the lads. One hundred and five runs still a lot to get bug we have given ourselves a good chance having probably not played our best cricket in this game.

 “Cox and Critchley have batted superbly and the way Dean played was superb, that’s what we asked for positive contributions. Dean has been brilliant since he’s come in, you lose the experience of one Test opener and to bring another one in is absolute gold. He will be disappointed not to have got more runs but against the new ball and to get 50 and get us off to a good start speaks for itself.

“It’s still early stages but you hope that the partnership between Coxy and Critch will be a match-winning partnership. They’ve played valuable contributions but again I think we are going to need more. We still have a lot of batting still to come.

 “Soak up the pressure in the morning and see where we are. Wickets have fallen in clusters a little bit in this game and we are not too far away from the second new ball so obviously anything can still happen.

 “But we will remain positive and I think the beauty of this team and over the past few seasons is the belief that we have the belief to win in tough situations.”

Play resumes on Monday at 11am.

Essex: D Elgar, FIN Khushi, NLJ Browne, T Westley (Capt), JM Cox, MJJ Critchley, MS Pepper (WK), SR Harmer, S Snater, SJ Cook, JA Porter

Warwickshire: RM Yates, AL Davies (Capt), WMH Rhodes, SR Hain, EG Barnard, DR Mousley, JG Bethell, MGK Burgess (WK), MD Rae, CB Simmons, OJ Hannon-Dalby

Umpires: JD Middlebrook and BJ Debenham

Scorers: P Parkinson and MD Smith

Match Referee: JJ Swift

Elsewhere in Division One, Surrey beat Worcestershire at the Kia Oval by 281 runs. Jordan Clark fell two short of a century, while Dan Worrall returned match figures of ten for 57.

In Division Two, at Sophia Gardens, Glamorgan lead Middlesex by 134 runs with three second-innings wickets standing. Colin Ingram scored 105 for the home side.

Brian Jeeves