County Championship: Essex beat Hampshire to ease relegation fears
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Cloudfm County Ground (day four):|
|Essex 435: Lawrence 124, Chopra 61, Ten Doeschate 55; Abbott 5-90|
|Hampshire 172 & 211: Alsop 51, Northeast 41; Siddle 5-48, Harmer 4-64|
|Essex (24 pts) beat Hampshire (2 pts) by an innings and 52 runs|
Reigning county champions Essex beat Hampshire by an innings and 52 runs to ease Division One relegation fears.
Australian Test paceman Peter Siddle took 5-48, while spinner Simon Harmer chipped in with 4-64.
Hants, 17-2 overnight, made a bad start when Ian Holland played on before James Vince had his off stump extracted by Siddle, then Kyle Abbott was run out.
From 63-5, they at least took the game well into the final session before being bowled out for 211.
In his penultimate game before returning down under to play for Victoria in the JLT One-Day Cup and Sheffield Shield, Siddle finished with match figures of 7-70, to accompany Harmer's haul of 6-86.
Siddles's third 'five for' in successive games took his haul of wickets to 34 in just six matches.
His last game will be against leaders Surrey, also at Chelmsford, starting next Tuesday (4 September), when Hampshire visit bottom club Worcestershire, another of the six sides involved in the relegation equation.
Hampshire now stand sixth going into that game - just eight points ahead of the Pears. In fact, the bottom half of the eight-team top division are separated by just nine points.
Essex are now up into third, 25 points clear of trouble - but 45 points behind second-placed Somerset.
Simon Harmer told BBC Radio Essex:
"It took a massive effort to play the cricket that we wanted to play, to bat big and then bowl them out twice. It was the only way we were going to win the game.
"It was a tremendous team performance and it was good to see the batting unit putting up the runs so that the bowlers could take care of the rest.
"Siddle has been a special addition this season and he showed his class again. The wicket was quite dead and it was hard work today. But, with Sidds always coming back and getting vital breakthroughs, it made our job a hell of a lot easier."
Hampshire batsman Tom Alsop:
"It definitely wasn't out of our capabilities. We had a chat this morning about last season and the last day against Warwickshire at Edgbaston and how we needed to replicate that.
"We're disappointed. To fall 50 runs short of making them bat again, it makes us look back on the whole game, look at the bowling and think maybe we went for too many runs on a pitch like that. But credit to them. Siddle is a world-class bowler and so's Harmer. They've shown here why they are the defending champions.
"Everyone is fully aware of the situation we're in. But the good thing is it's in our control. If we go to Worcester and put in a good performance, then things will start to look up."