Essex seamers savage Gloucestershire
Essex were odds-on favourites to open their LV= County Championship Division Two campaign with victory against Gloucestershire after their seam attack dominated the second day's play at Chelmsford.
After bowling out their opponents for 180 to establish a first-innings lead of 184, Essex enforced the follow-on and reduced Gloucestershire to 55 for five at the second time of asking. Alex Gidman’s side still required 129 to avoid an innings defeat.
The visiting batsmen simply had no answer to a pace attack that displayed both venom and accuracy, with the ever-reliable David Masters leading the way.
Now just a few days short of his 34th birthday and following a season when he bagged 93 first-class victims, Masters picked up five wickets today.
Graham Napier induced Gloucestershire’s slide in their second innings, claiming the first three wickets in an opening spell of eight overs yielding 20 runs.
Included among his scalps was opener Richard Coughtrie who bagged a pair, his second duck spanning 33 deliveries.
Masters then nipped in for the wickets of Dan Housego and Hamish Marshall before bad light spared the visitors a possible defeat in two days. It came to their rescue with 15 overs still remaining.
Gloucestershire's first innings was also a grim affair as they struggled to make progress. It was something of a surprise that they arrived at lunch on 82 for two given the torrid time they experienced at the hands of Maurice Chambers and Masters.
Both beat the bat on numerous occasions without reward, while several edges dropped just short or wide of fielders or flew over the slip cordon.
In that pre-lunch session Chambers found enough swing to have Coughtrie caught low down at second slip and Tymal Mills roared in to york Chris Dent for a gutsy 38.
But in the afternoon session, bowlers were completely dominant as the innings disintegrated and the remaining wickets all fell before tea.
Masters started the procession when he had Alex Gidman caught behind during a nine-over spell costing 18, during which he also removed Housego for a top score of 39 and Ed Young.
The impressive Chambers got rid of Marshall and Ian Cockbain to pave the way for the powerfully-built Mills to make further inroads.
Sheer pace was his major weapon as he trapped Will Gidman leg-before and forced James Fuller to play on en route to figures of 3-35.
Masters and Chambers also finished with three wickets at a cost of 39 and 49 respectively.