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Cricket: Essex complete innings win over Hampshire

PUBLISHED: 17:24 01 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:24 01 September 2018

Peter Siddle celebrates taking the wicket of James Vince (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

Peter Siddle celebrates taking the wicket of James Vince (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

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Peter Siddle took 5-48 with some typically accurate bowling as Essex’s claimed their fourth Specsavers County Championship of the season by beating Hampshire by an innings & 52 with 14.3 overs left on the final day.

Michael Pepper removals the bails to dismiss Kyle Abbott (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)Michael Pepper removals the bails to dismiss Kyle Abbott (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

It was Siddle’s third five-wicket haul in six Championship appearances for Essex and he plays the last game of his stint against champions-elect Surrey, starting on Tuesday at Chelmsford, before returning to his day job back in Australia. He already has 34 red-ball wickets this wicket to his credit.

He was well supported by Simon Harmer, who alternated between his traditional haunt at the Hayes Close End and the River End, and finished with 4-64 to move to 43 wickets this summer to follow up his 72 last year.

Hampshire, losing for the fourth time this season, moved deeper into troubled waters in the lower reaches of Division One despite Tom Alsop and Sam Northeast keeping Essex in the field longer than they would have liked into the early evening.

Northeast steadied the ship during the morning with Kyle Abbott, finally departing after 101 balls for 41. The left-handed Alsop was even more the immovable object personified, his innings spanning all three sessions while eking out 51 runs from 141 balls.

Paul Walter of Essex (right) is congratulated on his fielding after a run out (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)Paul Walter of Essex (right) is congratulated on his fielding after a run out (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

After losing the whole of the first day to damp spots where the wicketkeepers stand, defending champions Essex managed to pull off their victory inside three days.

It was reminiscent of many of the wins in last season’s title success, piling up runs in the first innings and bowling teams out twice.

This was the first time this season they had managed to do so and they also took a maximum 24 points for the first time this year.

Needing to take eight wickets at the start of the fourth day, it looked as if Essex would wrap the game up in double-quick time, especially when Siddle carried on from his devastating bowling of the previous evening.

Varun Chopra of Essex celebrates taking the catch to dismiss Sam Northeast (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)Varun Chopra of Essex celebrates taking the catch to dismiss Sam Northeast (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

He had left Hampshire 17-2 overnight, and reduced them to 24-4 in his second over of the morning.

With the second ball of the over he had Ian Holland playing on for a 25-ball two, and followed four balls later when Hampshire captain James Vince was undone by a beauty, an off-cutter that sent his off-stump flying.

Essex were held up for 14 overs while Kyle Abbott and Northeast added 39 runs in a classic example of obduracy, though there was the odd outburst of aggression.

Northeast caressed Sam Cook for successive boundaries either side of the wicket and Abbott lofted Harmer back over his head.

Simon Harmer celebrates taking the wicket of Rilee Rossouw (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)Simon Harmer celebrates taking the wicket of Rilee Rossouw (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

But the fifth-wicket stand ended in discord when Abbott called Northeast for a sharp single to substitute fielder Paul Walter at cover – and Northeast didn’t move.

Abbott was halfway down the wicket and applying the brakes by the time substitute wicketkeeper Michael Pepper had gathered Walter’s throw and removed the bails. The rock-like Abbott had gone for 22 from 70 balls.

Harmer kept changing ends to keep the pressure on the batsmen and was on at the Hayes Close End to end Northeast’s stay to his 101st ball soon after lunch. South African Harmer turned one away and caught the edge of the batsman’s forward prod with Varun Chopra holding on at slip.

Bowling from the River End, Rilee Rossouw executed a reverse-sweep, rather out of synch with the match positon but Harmer hit back when the South African drove into Nick Browne’s hands at short cover for 14 from 30 balls.

Siddle had his fifth wicket when Liam Dawson got an inside edge that Pepper took one-handed going low down to his left.

Alsop, who hit 99 against Nottinghamshire last week, reached his snail-pace fifty with his eighth boundary, a square-drive off Cook. It had taken 135 balls. Next ball he brought up the fifty partnership with Gareth Berg but his three-hour vigil ended six balls later when Harmer extracted some extra bounce and Pepper juggled with the ball before finally claiming the catch in front of the wicket.

Berg showed some late aggression when he put Harmer over long leg for six but Berg became Harmer’s fourth wicket, lbw, after scoring 37 from 107 balls.

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