Cricket: Harmer helps Essex take control against Nottinghamshire
PUBLISHED: 18:44 15 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:45 15 May 2019
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Simon Harmer saved Essex with the bat before causing panic with the ball after Nottinghamshire fast bowler Luke Fletcher had celebrated his fifth career five-wicket haul in their Specsavers County Championship clash at Chelmsford.
Harmer had scored an invaluable 43 runs during an 81-run stand with Peter Siddle for the ninth wicket after Nottinghamshire, led by Fletcher and spinner Matt Carter, had ripped Essex's middle-order apart.
Having secured a 54-run first innings lead, Harmer then found impeccable spin to claim figures of 4-32, including two wickets in two balls.
The South African's efforts meant Nottinghamshire ended the day on 90-6 - with a slender lead of 36 and facing a battle to save the match.
The early interest of a pulsating day came in the battle between England teammates of 12 years Stuart Broad and Sir Alastair Cook.
In 26 deliveries, Broad produced 23 dot balls and only went for four runs before Cook edged to third slip in the fourth over of the day - the batman left swiping the air frustration while the Nottinghamshire man punched the air in delight.
Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence both reach the teens before departing, the former lbw to Broad and the latter wafting outside off-stump to be caught behind and gave Fletcher his first.
At the other end, Nick Browne not only posted his first fifty in eight Championship matches, scored off 92 balls, but a scampered single took him to 56 and 5,000 career runs in first-class cricket.
Rishi Patel fell on the cusp of lunch when a high-quality piece of bowling from Fletcher caught his outside edge to speed to second slip, and the wicket sparked an incredible collapse.
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Essex lost four wickets in 23 balls, with a further dismissal coming another 23 balls later as they slumped from 136-3 to 158-8.
Typically, Fletcher was in the middle of it, as having seen off Patel he found Ryan ten Doeschate padding up to him, with the delivery destined to uproot the off-stump.
Carter continued the destructive period when he finally found a chink in Browne's armour, after 168-balls the opener tamely carved to point.
Short-leg Ben Slater then twice joined up with Carter to claim the wickets of Robbie White and Jamie Porter.
But just as a first-innings deficit appeared destined for Essex, Harmer and Siddle (40 not out) produced a vital 81-run partnership in 24 overs for the ninth wicket.
Fletcher ended the partnership with the fourth delivery of his new-ball spell when Harmer departed lbw for 43 from 83 balls. And Sam Cook followed two overs later, his off-stump lifted out of the ground, to give Fletcher figures of 5-50. Carter, meanwhile, finished with 3-68.
Ben Duckett and Slater wiped out the shortfall inside 16 overs but had a lead of only 16 when Nottinghamshire lost three wickets for 21 runs, Duckett the first to depart when he chipped to Porter at mid-off.
A ball later, Porter steamed in and struck Slater on the pads and Joe Clarke only managed to bat out 10 balls before he edged Harmer to Alastair Cook at first slip.
Steven Mullaney and Samit Patel departed in successive Harmer twirlers, both caught at bat-pad by ten Doeschate - the off-spinner claiming four wickets for three runs in 21 restless balls.
Night watchman Carter was leg before to Siddle, as the visitors lost six wickets for 16 runs.