County Championship: Essex beat Warwickshire to go top of Division One

Simon Harmer
Simon Harmer took eight wickets in the match to help Essex to victory - and has 65 this season in all
Specsavers County Championship Division One, The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (day four):
Essex 245: Cook 84, Rhodes 5-17 & 316-9 dec: Cook 83; Rhodes 4-38
Warwickshire 161: Siddle 5-33 & 213: Burgess 64, Banks 50; Harmer 6-75
Essex (20 pts) beat Warwickshire (3 pts) by 187 runs

Essex moved to the top of the Division One table as they maintained their 100% home record with a 187-run win over Warwickshire at Chelmsford.

The Bears, chasing 401 for victory, resumed on 67-1 but soon lost opener Liam Banks for 50, caught by Tom Westley at third slip off Peter Siddle.

Spinner Simon Harmer (6-75) then tore through the visitors' order with four wickets in 20 balls.

They bowled out Warwickshire for 213 after lunch to move above Somerset.

The 2017 champions now hold a four-point lead at the top of the table, with Somerset's resounding innings defeat by Yorkshire seeing them slip to second.

Victory for Essex - a sixth in six County Championship games this season at Chelmsford - was not a foregone conclusion on day four after Warwickshire had navigated a tricky session on the third evening to leave themselves only one wicket down needing another 324 to win.

But once Siddle had dismissed Banks, who struck seven fours during his maiden half-century, Harmer took the game away from the Bears with a devastating spell.

His first three victims - Rob Yates, Dan Mousley and Tim Ambrose - all fell in the slips, with two catches taken by former England captain Alastair Cook.

He then had Adam Hose caught in the deep from an attempted sweep shot, before Henry Brookes' entertaining cameo of 27 from 25 balls was ended by Matt Quinn.

Harmer snaffled Patel off the bowling of Siddle shortly after lunch before taking the final two wickets - including that of debutant Michael Burgess for a battling 64 - to seal victory.

Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate:

"It's just rewards for the amount of work the lads have put in during this five-game block. When we approached it, it looked brutal. It's been an incredible effort.

"We're not too bothered about Somerset. We had to keep doing things ourselves, and eventually the pressure has told on them. But to be in the running with four games to go is a great achievement.

"But the mental effort required to go out there and win games has been tough, so the T20 break has come at a wonderful time.

"It's hard to put into words how good Simon Harmer is at this level. You see him, you chuck him the ball and expect him to get wickets all the time. He is pretty difficult to face in the nets as well."

Bears head coach Jim Troughton told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire:

"At the start of the day it was always going to be something of a tall order to either bat three sessions or knock those runs off. We knew that first half-hour or 40 minutes was going to be make or break.

"Some of our guys have never faced anyone like Simon Harmer. Dan Mousley has scored lots of runs in the second team and Rob Yates has shown us he's a quick learner. Hopefully they'll both have learnt a lot from this game."

"It was pleasing for Liam Banks to get his first first-class 50 for the Bears, and Michael Burgess showed signs that he's a quality player and hopefully that will continue in the T20s for him.

"It's been a long five or six weeks on the road, so it was probably a game too far for us. Bu there's been no moaning, feeling sorry for themselves. They're out of their hotel rooms, straight on to the coach and they've worked as hard as they can."

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