Cricket: Harmer is star turn as Essex beat Notts
PUBLISHED: 15:25 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:25 16 May 2019
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Simon Harmer’s ninth five-wicket Specsavers County Championship haul in just over two years helped spin Essex to their first victory of the campaign at Chelmsford.
The South African off-spinner continued his imperious early-season wicket-taking form, slicing through some fragile Nottinghamshire batting, to finish with 6-60 in the second innings, and eight wickets in the match.
It was Harmer's second five-fer of a season in which he has already taken 18 wickets in the three matches played so far.
Harmer added two more scalps in the morning having initiated Notts' collapse the previous evening with four wickets in 23 balls. He was ubiquitous, too, popping up at second slip with the diving catch that helped Jamie Porter to a three-wicket return of his own.
Set 105 to win, with more than five sessions to get them in, Essex managed to get home by eight wickets in the 35th over despite the considerable setback of losing opener Nick Browne to the third ball of the innings.
The three-day reverse extended a run of 10 Championship matches without a win for Notts, seven of them defeats, dating back to last June and a 301-run thrashing of Essex at the same ground. There was, therefore, some degree of satisfaction in the victory.
Wickets had not so much fallen in clusters throughout the game as in avalanches. Notts' collapse from 70-0 to 86-6 on the previous evening was only the latest example.
However, the last four Notts wickets managed to cling on for 80 minutes in the morning, adding 68 runs, to at least provide Essex with a total that could have posed a challenge judging by what had gone before.
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The overnight pair of Chris Nash and Tom Moores saw out half-an-hour's prodding and probing from Peter Siddle and Harmer without undue concern.
But then Harmer had Nash pushing forward and turning the ball into Dan Lawrence's hands at leg slip and the South African, who had started the morning with figures of 4-32, went off on a celebratory hop, step and a jump that took him past the slip cordon.
Nash had shown several flashes of aggression, taking boundaries off both bowlers, before departing for 32 from 65 balls in a stand of 30.
Moores looked to have dug in, adopting a placid anchor role in reaching 22 from 58 balls until in a moment's rush of blood he became Harmer's sixth scalp of the innings.
The wicketkeeper-batsman advanced down the wicket as Harmer dropped one short, toppled off-balance and Robbie White took a smart stumping.
Stuart Broad made sure Essex needed to chase a three-figure target with an extravagant, if ungainly sweep off Harmer that raced away for four. However, without addition to the score, Luke Fletcher received a lifter from Porter that flew to Harmer's right in the four-man slip cordon.
Porter finished with 3-41 - and seven wickets in the match - after wrapping up the innings as Broad swung expansively and prematurely and had his off-stump poleaxed.
Essex lost Browne when he was sent back by Sir Alastair Cook after he was already halfway down the wicket. Browne turned but could not beat Fletcher's throw to the non-striker's end from backward square leg.
Westley joined Cook and outscored the former England captain by almost two to one. But requiring just a single for his first half-century of the season, Westley clipped Samit Patel to Joe Clarke at midwicket and departed after an elegant knock of 82 balls.
Instead it was left to Dan Lawrence to guide Essex over the line at 3.10pm with a push into the offside off Patel as Cook remained not out on 40 from 109 balls.
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