Essex deny Netherlands fairytale
Essex beat the Netherlands by just one run as the hosts came close to causing a huge Clydesdale Bank 40 upset in Amstelveen.
Set 219 to win, the Dutch finished on 217 for six as Eric Szwarczynski provided the bedrock of their brave chase.
Despite seeing Nick Statham and Michael Dighton depart cheaply to leave the hosts 37 for two, the South Africa-born right-hander remained unflappable as he fashioned a recovery.
He found an effective ally in Bas Zuiderent as the duo put on 103 for the fourth wicket, picking off runs at a steady rate with both men quick to punish the wayward delivery.
Szwarczynski reached his half-century off 75 balls, with five boundaries, illustrating his vigilant application, whilst Zuiderent required just 49 deliveries to reach the milestone
But, having advanced the score to 179, both fell off successive balls. Szwarczynski perished for 75 when he was run out after failing to beat the throw of Ryan ten Doeschate, Essex’s Dutch all-rounder.
Zuiderent followed immediately for 56 when he edged Graham Napier behind.
The home side required another 16 runs from two overs with five wickets intact and Mudassar Bukhari struck a six off Napier's first delivery as 10 were collected from the penultimate over.
Chris Wright was charged with the responsibility of the last over and conceded only three runs from his first five balls, with Bukhari then only able to take one run to midwicket before he was run out by Grant Flower in a thrilling finale.
Matt Walker earlier provided the required impetus to the visitors’ innings, adopting an aggressive role from the moment he arrived at the crease with his side in some trouble.
The county side were 98 for four in the 24th over on a slow wicket but Walker took on the Netherlands attack, using his feet to work the ball around the field and get the scoreboard moving at the required pace.
The left-hander struck five fours in scoring 71 from 55 deliveries, and twice cleared the ropes at long-off at Bukhari's expense.
He eventually perished chasing another six, instead picking out Tom Cooper at long-on to give Pieter Seelaar a third wicket.
He had been dropped at backward point on 17 when reverse-sweeping Mark Jonkman but took full advantage of the let-off, featuring in two half-century partnerships.
The first came with Jaik Mickleburgh, who had anchored the innings during the initial struggle. The 20-year-old, though, took a lead from the free-flowing Walker as they put on 50 in less than nine overs before Mickleburgh was bowled for 46 attempting to cut Mohammad Kashif.
James Foster continued the productive work, helping to add 51 in five overs as the batsmen improvised effectively whilst also capitalising on some fielding lapses. In one sequence, 46 runs were added off 18 balls.
Foster perished for 24 when he was caught at cover, and in the next over - the penultimate of the innings - Walker departed having engineered a respectable total for Essex.