Essex ease to early victory
Essex kept their promotion hopes alive as they crushed Worcestershire by in the LV= County Championship Division Two match at Chelmsford.
After bowling out the visitors a second time, for 299, Essex cruised to the 51 runs they needed for the loss of only two wickets to complete their fifth championship victory of the summer.
Teenager Reece Topley proved the chief destroyer as he finished with 5-56 and match figures of 11-85.
After resuming on 163 for three, still requiring 86 to avoid an innings defeat, Worcestershire were quickly plunged into further trouble when Topley captured wickets with his second and fifth deliveries of his first over to remove nightwatchman David Lucas and Joe Leach.
This left an even bigger burden on opener Matthew Pardoe who, having added 14 runs to his overnight 74, chased a widish delivery from Ryan ten Doeschate that ended in the hands of Jaik Mickleburgh at second slip.
At this point the visitors were still 46 runs short of making Essex bat again but a spirited partnership between Ross Whiteley and Shaaiq Choudhry saw them clear the arrears.
They resisted for 19 overs while adding 67 before Choudhry was caught behind by James Foster from the final ball of the morning session after making 34.
Whitely was dismissed for 38 with the first delivery of the afternoon, another Foster victim, to provide Topley with his 10th wicket of the match.
A late flourish saw Jack Shantry and Alan Richardson add 29 runs, but it was the irrepressible Topley who had the final word when he removed the former - again with Foster’s help as the wicketkeeper took his fourth catch of the day.
Topley’s match haul of 11 wickets signalled the best return by an Essex bowler in a match since Maurice Chambers claimed 10 against Nottinghamshire at Chelmsford in 2010.
Essex openers Mickleburgh and Nick Browne had taken their side to within six runs of the target when they lost two wickets to Choudhry. First he had Mickleburgh caught in the gully by Moeen Ali for 28 before Greg Smith fell in identical manner in the left-arm spinner’s next over.
But Browne, who finished unbeaten on 22, hit the winning runs to earn the home side a 23-point return.