Jamie Porter and Matt Quinn shared five Hampshire wickets in 17 balls of cricketing carnage in overcast evening conditions on the second day of Essex’s Specsavers County Championship match at Chelmsford.
Hampshire went from 18 without loss to 18 for five as their batsmen found Essex’s opening pair almost unplayable, the ball swinging about all over the place on a drying wicket. It didn’t get any better for Hampshire until the sun came out belatedly.
UPDATE Last 17 balls 0-5:— County Championship (@CountyChamp) May 20, 2017
Head coach Craig White said: “I’m still a little bit gobsmacked to be honest. There’s certainly a little bit in the pitch. It’s dried out a bit and done a little bit more than it did yesterday. There were a lot of play-and-misses yesterday, so it was doing a fair bit, and now it’s doing enough and it’s tricky."
“Put it in the right area and you get rewarded – the one Bergy got was unplayable. But the two at the end there - Lewis and Kyle - showed that if you get stuck in and show a bit of fight you can bat on it. That’s what we’ve got to do in the morning, we’ve got to look forward and try and be positive, get as many as we can and see what happens."
Ravi Bopara had joined the party by then, with two wickets in his first over as shell-shocked Hampshire slumped to 92 for seven when stumps were drawn at 7.04pm, still 119 short of making Essex bat again.
Liam Dawson sparked the rot when he played an unconvincing forward prod to Porter and got an outside edge to the wicketkeeper. Four balls later, James Vince’s middle stump was sent cartwheeling as he was beaten by Porter’s pace.
Quinn had Michael Carberry offering no shot to depart lbw. Next ball Rilee Rossouw was caught low down at mid-on by a diving Neil Wagner. George Bailey gave Porter his third wicket when he shouldered arms to one that nipped back and was bowled.
Bopara replaced Quinn at the River End and had Sean Ervine wafting airily at his first ball. Four balls later Gareth Berg gloved a delivery that reared up nastily to give Adam Wheater his second catch of the over. At that point, Hampshire were 34 for seven and only 14 overs had been bowled. Lewis McManus and Kyle Abbott papered over the cracks with an unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 58.
All this after Essex had lost their last nine wickets for 117 runs with Abbott taking his third five-wicket haul of the Championship season in two brief, but devastatingly hostile spells either side of lunch.Hampshire had toiled on day one as Alastair Cook and Tom Westley amassed a record second-wicket partnership of 243.
But Abbott finished with five for 58 from 30 overs as Essex could only reach 360 all out.The South African paceman took his Championship tally this season to 25 wickets at 15.76 each. He took four wickets for 15 runs in 11.4 overs on the day, taking two for 10 in seven and a bit overs in the first hour followed by two for five in four overs immediately post-lunch.
Abbott had to carry much of the burden for Hampshire’s attack after Fidel Edwards suffered a shoulder injury on the first day that will prevent his participation in the rest of the match. Abbott, though, was up to the task.He had ended the Cook-Westley partnership with the final ball the evening before and used the new-ball to great effect in the morning. With the third delivery of the 81st over, Abbott had Dan Lawrence shuffling across his stumps and to exit lbw.
Cook gave his first chance of an innings that spanned 281 balls when he was dropped by Dawson at third slip. Abbott was unfortunate then, but in his next over he had Cook nibbling at the first two balls before trying to hammer the third square on the offside to give a catch behind. The England opener had eked out just 10 more runs in the first 40 minutes’ play to take his score to 124.
With Berg and Ervine nagging away at the batsmen, Bopara and Wheater managed just 12 runs in a fifth-wicket stand that spanned 10 overs before Berg pinned the former Hampshire man lbw for a 33-ball seven.
Bopara, meanwhile, faced 58 balls before reaching double-figures, though he did straight-drive Ervine for the four that took him to 11,000 first-class career runs.But the arrival of Ryan ten Doeschate roused Essex from their slumbers. He lifted Mason Crane’s first ball over long-leg for six and followed it with a four through the covers. He outscored Bopara by two-to-one in a sixth-wicket partnership of 51 that took Essex to a third batting point, a significant increase on the paltry two from their previous three matches.
The stand was broken when Abbott returned to the attack straight after lunch. With his fourth ball, he had Bopara injudiciously leaving alone a delivery that swung in and took off-stump. Bopara’s 23 had taken 92 balls and he looked to have weathered the pre-lunch hiatus.Ten Doeschate followed soon after for a spirited 37 when he was beaten by a fast, swinging delivery from Abbott that uprooted his off-stump. Simon Harmer then went lbw to Berg.
After two lengthy rain breaks either side of tea, which reduced the day’s allocation by 20 overs, the remaining two Essex wickets fell inside three overs. Wagner went for a big hit against Crane and was caught on the midwicket boundary before Quinn’s slog-fest was ended when Dawson had him plumb lbw. It was a prelude to what was to follow.