Essex snatch a dramatic victory over Glamorgan

Brian Jeeves

Essex v Glamorgan – Vitality Blast – Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford – Report

Glamorgan 166 for eight (20.0 overs)

Essex 168 for eight (18.4 overs)

Essex won the toss and elected to bowl

Essex won by two wickets

Essex recorded their second successive Vitality Blast victory at Chelmsford as Glamorgan were beaten by two wickets in a drama-filled contest which swung back and forth, leaving the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout.

Essex’s victory over Middlesex last time out had stopped the rot following back-to-back losses at Gloucestershire and holders Somerset. Meanwhile, Glamorgan had two south group wins from three, including a three-wicket win over the Seaxes twenty-four overs previous.

Eddie Byrom returned to the pavilion after a single delivery the previous evening at Lord’s. This time, he fared little better, as Daniel Sams sent him packing off the fifth ball of the evening, again without scoring.

Glamorgan’s discomfort during the powerplay continued. Sam Northeast’s thick edge was snaffled by Matt Crichley’s off Shane Snater. Marnus Labuschange looked to steady ship, but the Welshmen floundered on 31 for two after six overs.

Labuschange and Kiran Carlson moved Glamorgan along. Particularly the latter, whose 36 included two ‘out of the park’ sixes. However, Luc Benkenstein was in the right place to hand Critchley his scalp. Their third-wicket partnership was 63.

Labuschange lofted Paul Walter to Jordan Cox as the Essex attack continued to make inroads. Chris Cook and Colin Ingram repaired the damage, putting on 48 before the former was caught by Benkenstein. Ingram carried the fight and passed fifty. This time, Michael Pepper displayed a safe pair of hands. Sams claiming both to take his haul to three.

Walter oversaw the dismissals of Dan Douthwaite and Timm van der Gugten to finish with figures of three for 33. Sams had three for 28. But skipper, Simon Harmer suffered, going at more than twelve and a half per-over. Glamorgan posted a competitive 166 for eight.

Adam Rossington and Dean Elgar set about the chase in swashbuckling fashion before McIlroy removed Elgar’s leg stump in the middle of the fifth over.

Rossington, joined by Pepper, continued to motor. Van der Gugten’s opening two overs disastrously went for 42. He was replaced by Labuschane, who oversaw the departure of the big-hitting Rossington for 48, caught by McIlroy, but with Essex in control on 90 for two inside eight overs.

Cox found Northeast off Crane providing the visitors with a glimmer of hope, and when Pepper followed, cutting Crane onto his stumps for 31, the hosts had lost three wickets for ten runs, leaving the sellout crowd suddenly anxious.

That swiftly became four for ten as Labuschane had Walter spectacularly caught by Carlson. The tide dramatically turning.

It had become something of a precession. Sams was next to go. A third for Crane. McIlroy was the competent man deep in the field. The crowd fell silent when Critchley joined him under similar circumstances. Glamorgan now had the game by the scruff of its neck.

Labuschane sensationally caught Harmer off his own delivery and celebrated accordingly. Seven wickets had fallen in 31 balls. The writing was seemingly on the wall for Essex. A section of the audience headed for the exits, somewhat shellshocked.

But they were to miss a dramatic late twist, provided by a couple of unlikely heroes. Benkenstein and Snater were faced with the huge task of saving the match. Their unbeaten ninth-wicket stand gleaned 45 runs to see the home side over the line with eight balls to spare. Benkenstein’s 35* included four 4s and a 6, while Snater batted equally sensible for 25*.

Crane finished with 4-0-25-4 and Lambuschane 3-0-35-3. But their efforts were in vain. Benkenstein drove back past Ingram and across the rope to settle a thoroughly entertaining contest and edge Essex up the table.

Speaking to Martin Smith from the ECB Reporters Network, Essex all-rounder Benkenstein said: “I’m a little bit overwhelmed to get us over the line, there were a lot of nerves there when I went out to bat. I had only batted in one T20 but the message was really clear ‘take the game deep’ and we did that.

“I had to put my ego away when some of those balls were tossed up. It was great to have guys like Harmer and Snater out there with me, they kept me level-headed.

“At half-way, I thought we were going to fly to victory – I was putting my kit away! I came back out and saw we have lost a few wickets and there was some panic at the end.

“After our start, we thought they were miles under par but then Mason bowled really well and it was turned a lot out there. Ten or 20 more and they probably would have won.

“With these long breaks between games, it is important to get momentum and not lose when we have off days. We are trying to get on a roll like we know Essex have done in the past.”

Essex return to Vitality Blast action on Thursday, June 13 (6:15pm).

Essex: AM Rossington†, D Elgar, MS Pepper, JM Cox, PI Walter, MJJ Critchley, DR Sams, SR Harmer*, LM Benkenstein, S Snater, AP Beard

Glamorgan: EJ Byrom, KS Carlson*, SA Northeast, CA Ingram, M Labuschagne, CB Cooke†, DA Douthwaite, MS Crane, T van der Gugten, AW Gorvin, JP McIlroy

Umpires: PR Pollard and M Newell

Scorers: P Parkinson and HM Hyde

Match Referee: DA Cosker

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk