Essex 457 (Lawrence 152, Westley 114) and 85 for 1 beat Warwickshire 158 (Harmer 5-65) and 381 (Lintott 78, Bess 63, Mousley 61, Harmer 5-165) by nine wickets

Simon Harmer claimed the 14th ten-wicket match haul of his career as he helped Essex to a nine-wicket victory that catapulted them into second place in the Division One table.

The South African off-spinner had played a key part in dismissing Warwickshire for 158 in the first innings with his 32nd five-wicket haul for the county, and he added No.33 second time around. He bowled unchanged from the River End throughout the 94 overs of Warwickshire’s second innings for match figures of 10 for 230. He now has 36 wickets this season.

However, it was not all plain sailing for Harmer and his team-mates. That Essex did not have the win wrapped up much earlier was down to two lower-order half-century stands, both involving Yorkshire loanee Dom Bess (63).

He shared 82 runs from 75 balls with Dan Mousley (61) for the seventh wicket, and 64 runs for the ninth with Jake Lintott, whose T20-esque hitting garnered him a career-best 78.

The three of them helped take Warwickshire past and then beyond the total needed to make Essex bat for a second time. The Bears were eventually all out for 381, leaving Essex requiring 83 from a minimum of 122 overs.

In the end they needed just 15 of them as Sir Alastair Cook (23 not out) and Tom Westley (12 not out) saw them over the line under leaden Chelmsford skies, reaching the target with four byes. However, en route they lost the aggressive Feroze Khushi who hit two sixes and five fours in a 46-ball 40 before chipping up to bat-pad off the ubiquitous Bess.

The back-to-back home wins provided ample amends for Essex’s only defeat in the LV= Insurance County Championship this season in the corresponding fixture at Edgbaston last month.

With 299 the target to make Essex bat again, Rob Yates and Will Rhodes, the not-out overnight pair, looked as if they were going to dig in until Christmas. They knocked off 31 in the first 55 minutes of the third day.

However, the early tension in the home camp was eased when Jamie Porter brought one in from outside off-stump to Rhodes and Will Buttleman took the catch down legside. Rhodes batted for 118 balls for his 46.

Five overs later, Yates became Harmer’s 400th first-class wicket for Essex when the left-hander leaned forward tentatively and fell to another catch behind.

Warwickshire sent in Ed Barnard to break up the left-handed sequence at the top of the order. He did not last long, dollying a leading edge off Doug Bracewell to mid-off.

Jacob Bethell had looked composed, driving the majority of his seven fours through the covers, but he departed to a bat-pad catch off Matt Critchley for 36. Three balls on, the leg-spinner who has gained a reputation this season as a ‘golden arm’, also accounted for Michael Burgess, caught by a diving Cook at slip.

The 21-year-old Mousley reached his fourth Championship fifty of the season during a Harmer over from which he plundered 18 runs.

However, as so often, Harmer had his revenge when Mousley charged down the wicket in an attempt to land a fourth maximum and was stumped by several country miles. His disgust with himself was plain to see.

Hassan Ali cracked Critchley for a six but his was a short stay as he picked out Khushi at deep midwicket to give Harmer his fourth wicket of the innings.

Eight-down, Warwickshire were then still 30 runs away from returning Essex to the crease, but Bess reached a well-deserved fifty just before that breakthrough point was reached in the 83rd over. He departed in an eventful over from Porter in which he hooked a six, was dealt a painful blow in the solar plexus and nicked behind.

Lintott’s maiden first-class fifty came at a run-a-ball and had Essex struggling to defend the boundary, His free-wheeling innings of 14 fours and two sixes was ended when Khushi held on in the deep to provide Harmer with another match-ball for his burgeoning collection.


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