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Essex v Surrey – The Bob Willis Trophy – Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford – Report
Essex 262 and 261
Surrey 187 and 167
Essex won the toss and elected to bat
Essex won by 169 runs
SIMON HARMER finished with incredible match figures of 14/131 as Essex made is two Bob Willis Trophy victories out of two by comfortably seeing off Surrey at Chelmsford.
Harmer’s feat capped another highly competent display from the County Champions, although it was one of the young guns, Feroze Khushi, who set the ball rolling, displaying remarkable maturity to recording his maiden first-class fifty as Essex posted a first-innings total of 261.
The exciting 21-year-old right-hander forged useful partnerships with Sir Alastair Cook (42) and Paul Walter before he clipped Amar Virdi to Ryan Patel for 67.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Adam Wheater chipped in with 52 – Rikki Clarke, with 3/21, the pick of the Surrey attack.
Sam Cook immediately got to work with the ball, claiming Ryan Patel and Scott Borthwick off successive balls leaving the visitors foundering on 1/2. And despite 70 off 185 balls from Will Jacks and 41 from 98 by Laurie Evans, the pace and precision supplied by Cook and Harmer duo proved far too much for the Surrey batting order.
Harmer claimed 6/67 while Porter had 4/53 helping the hosts to a healthy first-innings lead of 75.
Former England skipper, Cook, scored 42 for the second time in the match, while Paul Walter hit 46 as the home side turned the screw – Adam Finch took 4/38 and Amar Virdi 4/85 as Essex were dismissed for 262, setting Surrey a mammoth 337 to win on the final day.
But once again, the irresistible Harmer provided a performance to remember, taking a further eight Surrey wickets for 64. It was the nineteenth time Harmer had taken five first-class wickets or more for Essex – he has now claimed 237 victims since arriving at the county three years ago.
Jamie Smith was the only batsman to offer a threat. And although it was Aaron Beard who took his scalp, Harmer again got in on the act, producing a marvellous catch at second slip to send the Surrey man back to the pavillion for 45.
Speaking to Alex Smith from the ECB Reporters Network Harmer said: “The wicket at Chelmsford always suits me!
“Professional cricket is about performance and failures and when it is your day you have to make the best of it because I don’t know what will happen next week at Hove.
“When the wicket is turning, I’m going to cash in as much as I can and that’s what I did today. I knew they would be under pressure.
The South African-born spinner added: “I am very happy with the way the ball is coming out at the moment but cricket is a funny game so you can’t take anything for granted, but touch wood may the form continue.
“When I got to six wickets the boys started talking about how if I pulled my finger out then I might have been able to get all 10.
“Those things don’t happen very often in cricket but I’ll take that catch and an eight-for any day.
“We have belief as a team at the moment. You could see it against Kent when we had a bad session that the belief was still there that whatever happened we would still be able to win the game.
“It was the same today. I knew I was good for at least three wickets and I had full faith in Jamie, Sam, Beardy and Paul.”
Essex return to Bob Willis Trophy action on Saturday, August 15-18, when they face Sussex at Hove (11am)
Essex: Alastair Cook, Nick Browne, Tom Westley (Capt), Varun Chopra, Feroze Khushi, Paul Walter, Adam Wheater (WK), Simon Harmer, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter, Aaron Beard
Surrey: Mark Stoneman (Capt), Ryan Patel, Scott Borthwick, Will Jacks, Jamie Smith (WK), Laurie Evans, Rikki Clarke, Gus Atkinson, Adam Finch, James Taylor, Amar Virdi
Umpires: BJ Debenham and CM Watts
Scorers: AE Choat and PJ Wolski
Match Referee: Peter Such