Khushi impresses for Essex with maiden half-century
PUBLISHED: 12:10 09 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:10 09 August 2020
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Feroze Khushi suggested Essex’s production line is in no danger of slowing down as the academy product celebrated his maiden first-class half-century on an even opening day against Surrey.
Batsman Khushi was one of 10 homegrown talents in the Essex’s Bob Willis Trophy side to face Surrey as he struck 66 on his second appearance for the county.
Adam Wheater, who along with Sam Cook was awarded his county cap before play, also reached fifty as Essex reached close on 253 for seven.
Surrey, who have seven Kia Oval-bred players in their XI, proved their youth was also prospering as debutant Gus Atkinson, James Taylor and Amar Virdi all claimed wickets.
Home skipper Tom Westley won the toss and elected to bat on a wicket which seemed identical to the one which produced a two-wicket thriller against Kent last week.
That meant patient batting and accurate bowling was rewarded throughout the day.
Availability plagued Surrey had enjoyed the better of the morning session as two teenagers saw county champions Essex slump to 49 for three.
Surrey have 14 players currently unavailable which forced them to add Sussex’s Laurie Evans and Worcestershire bowler Adam Finch on loan for this match.
Quick Gus Atkinson was handed a debut, having been at the county since under-12 level, and it took his just five overs to make his mark on the first team.
Nick Browne seemed to expect the ball to angle across him but was cramped as he squeezed the ball to Mark Stoneman at extra cover.
James Taylor wasn’t offered a new contract at boyhood club Derbyshire last year, but their oversight has been to Surrey’s benefit.
The seamer didn’t take a wicket in the defeat to Middlesex but cut down Essex’s top order in two successive deliveries.
Westley slashed outside off stump to nick behind to keeper Jamie Smith, the batsman distraught at his misjudgement. Varun Chopra then jabbed a beauty to Scott Borthwick at second slip to leave Essex 49 for three.
Khushi joined his boyhood hero Sir Alastair Cook, who had provided a no-thrills backbone to the batting.
Cook reached 42, having added 49 with Khushi, but edged Virdi to first slip Rikki Clarke to a ball which turned nicely out the rough – Virdi’s third ball.
Khushi then took centre stage with patience mixed with a dabble of stroke-play – specifically picking up whenever Virdi found himself straying a tad short.
Khushi made his debut last week, where he scored a vital 45 in the chase of 202, including 86 with Cook.
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The 21-year-old had been given a life when he was put down by Will Jacks at gully on 16, but strode to an 84-ball fifty with a flick off his hips.
But he saved the shots of the day until the next over when he twice whipped Taylor to the leg side boundary.
Khushi departed in a tame fashion which betrayed the rest of his innings, when he placed straight into Ryan Patel’s lap at mid-wicket off Virdi.
Paul Walter, who replaced the injured Ryan ten Doeschate in the side, had put on 67 with Khushi and continued his work with Wheater.
They added another 57 runs before Borthwick entered the attack and yorked the all-rounder with his third ball.
Wheater was unassuming in his run-scoring, especially with a relentlessly precise bowling attack, but reached his half-century in 94 balls.
The wicketkeeper has started the Bob Willis Trophy in fine form, following 37 and a match completing 26 not out.
He was dismissed attempting an extravagant cut off Clarke, which deflected to Evans at gully.
Simon Harmer, Essex’s only non-local, saw out the last seven overs of the day with Aaron Beard.
Essex wicketkeeper-batsman Wheater said: “At times it can look easy out there but then you are kept on track by a ball which does something and then it builds again.
“There are moments where you think it is a good wicket and then it does something which keeps you interested.
“There weren’t many straight drives today and that is an indicator to the pace of the wicket, which was fairly slow. Batsmen never felt like they were in.
“If we get up to 300 or 320, we’ll be pretty pleased with that.
“I used the lockdown for a moment of reflection. You naturally search for things you can improve on and change.
“Before lockdown I felt like I was in a good place and that has continued.”
On receiving his county cap, he added: “I was told as a youngster by Graeme Welch that it isn’t easy to get a county cap. You get given a contract with the hope of getting a cap.
“I was lucky to get one at Hampshire and it was a great moment to get one today at Essex.
“Sam [Cook] has deserved his cap through how he has come into the team and continued to perform. He is 23 going on a senior pro. He is brilliant and long may it continue.”
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