Essex lose to Glamorgan in tense finale
PUBLISHED: 18:19 15 September 2016
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Division Two champions come up short in run chase
Division Two champions Essex slipped to an 11-run defeat against Glamorgan on a tense final day at Chelmsford.
Having already clinched promotion earlier in the week, Essex were set a target of 264 for victory and almost got it after some late resistance from veteran bowler David Masters, who had announced his retirement earlier in the day.
But instead they fell to only their third county championship defeat of the season, which leaves them an unassailable 25 points clear at the top of the table with only one match at Kent to come next week.
Glamorgan resumed the final day on 293-9, but added only three runs to their total before Dan Lawrence run out Mark Wallace for 78 to leave Essex to chase 264 in 91 overs.
The home side began well enough as the returning Varun Chopra hit three successive fours from one of Craig Meschede’s early overs and dominated a half-century opening stand with Nick Browne.
Left-hander Browne then became the third batsman in the team to reach 1,000 county championship runs for the season when he took a sinngle to move to 20, but he was caught by Will Bragg off Timm van der Gugten’s last ball of the morning session to fall for 30 and leave Essex 92-1 at lunch.
Masters announced his retirement during the interval, after a 16-year first-class career, and the hosts lost Tom Westley for a third-ball duck to Michael Hogan soon after the restart, with Ravi Bopara trapped leg before by a van der Gugten dismissal that kept low with only a single to his name to make it 102-3.
Chopra held firm, though, and had moved to 79 when he was bowled by Hogan with the total on 138, having hit 10 boundaries in his three-hour innings, before Lawrence fell in similar fashion for 30, after hitting six boundaries, to leave Essex 147-5 and needing another 117 for the win.
Adam Wheater was then joined by captain Ryan ten Doeschate, who has signed a one-year extension to his contract with the county, and the sixth-wicket pair, having salvaged Essex’s first innings, saw the hosts to tea at 154-5, leaving them to score 110 in the final session.
Having hit a century in the first innings and become the second Essex player after Westley to reach 1,000 first-class runs this season, skipper ten Doeschate helped reduce the target to 77 before he was bowled by Hogan, who claimed his fourth wicket of the innings in the process.
And Wheater then offered a return catch to the same bowler soon after to allow him to complete a five-wicket haul and leave Essex 200-7.
Having been in the middle with ten Doeschate when Essex secured their fifth bonus point and the title on Tuesday, James Foster was joined by fellow stalwart Graham Napier, making his last appearance at the County Ground before retirement.
And Napier, having failed to get off the mark in the first innings, took one ball to settle himself before hitting his second delivery faced to the boundary.
The pair eked out ones and twos in the next few overs to slowly reduce the target, but then Napier was trapped leg before by van der Gugten for 12, not the fairytale finish he had hoped for, to leave Essex still needing 41 for victory with only two more wickets in hand.
Masters was given a guard of honour by the Glamorgan players as he came out to join Foster, upon whose shoulders the hopes of an Essex victory were now resting, with 16 overs still to be bowled.
But the Essex wicketkeeper was caught behind by opposite number Wallace off the bowling of Meschede for 23 to leave the hosts 229-9, with only last man Jamie Porter to come.
The experienced Masters, with a career-best of 119 to his name in 201 first-class appearances, dug in over the course of the next eight overs, then hit van der Gugten for a boundary in the 86th over of the innings, before Porter brought up Essex’s 250 to leave them needing 13 runs from the last four overs.
But Porter’s 50 minutes of defiance was ended by van der Gugten as he was bowled with the total on 252, leaving Masters, fittingly, unbeaten at the other end on 19.
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