Hampshire 322 for 8 (Prest 102*, Harmer 5-143) and 267 for 7 (Dawson 119, Vince 89) beat Essex 447 for 9 dec (Rossington 104, Critchley 99, Harmer 62, Yadav 51, Westley 50) and 153 for 8 dec (Lawrence 53, Abbott 4-63) by three wickets
Dawson, whose dismissal for 57 at Trent Bridge on Saturday had been the turning level of that tense contest, as soon as once more fell in need of sealing the deal when, with 20 runs nonetheless wanted from 23 balls, he crashed Matt Critchley into Nick Browne’s midriff at quick cowl, to supply Essex essentially the most slender of late lifelines.
The story of the tape was thus: Essex had begun the penultimate spherical with a deficit of 18 factors, and with scant hope of closing the hole on condition that Surrey had been at dwelling to the relegation-bound Northants. And but, after a clatter of morning wickets on the Kia Oval had condemned Surrey to the follow-on, Essex appeared dead-certs to capitalise on the champions’ missed second with their seventh win on the bounce, and slash that deficit to a meagre 4 factors.
If the Vince reprieve, at 52 for 4, helped to snap Hampshire’s game-brains again into place, then Dawson’s let-off, 97 runs later, was the second that Essex’s perception visibly ebbed from their efficiency. Blow by blow, they had been overwhelmed again by two World Cup winners – males who had been current within the dressing-room by England’s 2019 triumph, and who know full properly, by osmosis as a lot as by their very own clear skills, methods to tempo a chase that by no means threatened to tick over a run a ball. “It is only a totally different color ball,” as Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant Check coach, put it lately when describing the ever-converging strategies of the red- and white-ball video games.
Along with his century in sight, Vince hoisted Cook dinner handsomely over long-on for his second six, solely to come back unstuck in Critchley’s subsequent over, hacking a skewed drive to Dan Lawrence within the covers. However even that appeared too little too late for Essex, particularly when Umesh Yadav’s sensible sprawling effort at backward sq. off Dawson, on 97 on the time, was deemed to have been a bump-ball. Two balls later, Dawson crunched Critchley down the bottom for his 14th 4, and celebrated with a elevate of the arms to place the seal on a really mighty all-round season.
Within the remaining evaluation, Essex will know, nonetheless, that they blew a golden alternative to take the title to a straight shoot-out. They claimed 9 Hampshire wickets in the middle of the day’s play, in spite of everything, two of which had are available a perfunctory round-up of their first innings, seven hours and a number of other lifetimes earlier within the day.
At that early stage of proceedings, with Chelmsford’s replay display gleefully exhibiting footage of Surrey’s slide in direction of their follow-on, Essex may scent the unease emanating from south London. At the same time as he was flicking off Tom Prest’s bails to finish a superb knock on 108 and provides Harmer his sixth wicket of the innings, Adam Rossington started sprinting for the pavilion to pad up, in a transparent signal of how Essex meant their second innings to pan out.
Positive sufficient, Rossington re-emerged ten minutes later in a gambit for fast runs, however as an alternative served up a tame three-ball duck that relatively set the tone for a nondescript first ten overs of the declaration push, a passage that was colored – maybe inevitably – by the play inside a play.
The notion of Cook dinner’s impending retirement had been shot down by Essex in a snotty assertion on Thursday afternoon (the tone of which had maybe been knowledgeable by their sudden realisation that the title was again up for grabs). Nonetheless, that hardly discouraged a knot of photographers from congregating on the foot of the steps to greet his (remaining?) emergence from the Chelmsford pavilion.
And for 38 deliveries spanning 45 minutes, Cook dinner captured the eye – if not the zeitgeist – in a poignantly out-of-kilter show. Had been this formally a valedictory innings, one would possibly recommend it was an apt metaphor for Cook dinner’s raging-against-the-light profession, as he fought valiantly towards his pure inclinations, searching for to boost the tempo within the T20-prescribed trend, solely to lose his form, and in the end his wicket, within the course of.
Cook dinner thrashed and he yanked and, simply as soon as, he related with a meaty lump by the road off Kyle Abbott as Essex lastly reached the boundary from the primary ball of the seventh over – a powerplay it had not been. However then, two balls after connecting on a lower that burst by Prest’s palms at level, Cook dinner wound right into a cramped pull off Abbas, and under-edged by to the keeper.
His departure was one other dead-pan vignette: an outdated cricketer leaving the crease, nearly visibly resisting the urge to boost his bat as an unsure tribute gathered momentum across the floor, earlier than permitting himself simply the trace of a grimace as he disappeared into the dressing-room. No matter it’s that continues to be of his storied profession, he’d be giving nothing away simply but.
With the prologue performed, then, the declaration push may start in earnest, as a person relatively higher outfitted for such a state of affairs strode out for a Chelmsford farewell that had fewer caveats. Lawrence duly inside-edged his second ball by high-quality leg for 4 (it is what number of, not how, as Cook dinner would probably agree), however thereafter he batted like a person with a really private cause to swipe some silverware from below the noses of his future employers.
Had been it not for Essex’s Championship ambitions, Lawrence would possibly properly be up at Trent Bridge proper now, making ready for England’s ODI towards Eire on Saturday. As a substitute he did his worldwide prospects no hurt in any respect in absentia, unfurling a variety of preposterous cross-court forehands, together with a full-blown helicopter whip for six off Abbott, to inject the impetus that Essex urgently wanted. His 45-ball half-century drove the agenda in an 83-run stand in precisely 12 overs with Tom Westley, whose 45 from 49 ended when he launched Abbott to deep cowl on the stroke of lunch.
The lead at that stage was a useful however nonetheless skinny 225, so extra leverage was required. Enter Paul Walter at No. 4, who clouted Dawson over midwicket for six earlier than being bowled subsequent ball for 13, and Umesh Yadav, who bashed his first two balls over the Tom Pearce Stand for his fifth and sixth sixes of the match, then instantly holed out to long-on searching for a seventh. In between whiles, Critchley and Harmer misfired to deep cowl to offer Abbott a four-wicket haul, as the competition reset for spherical 4.
In the meantime, down at The Oval, Surrey by now had been deep into their go-slow, with Rory Burns and Dom Sibley setting themselves to defend their title benefit at any price, so Essex seized their probability to hurtle again into rivalry. Rossington set the usual with an exquisite seize down the leg-side, stretching along with his left glove to prise out Tony Albert from Sam Cook dinner’s fourth ball, after which it was over to the inevitable Harmer.
The mere act of Harmer stepping up on the River Finish appeared to spook Fletcha Middleton, whose third-ball sweep was a harbinger of his imminent demise because it ballooned off a top-edge into area at sq. leg. Three overs later, he related higher – and worse – as Jamie Porter stooped at sq. leg to cling on, and Harmer made it two within the over when Nick Gubbins closed his face too early and chipped a forefront to cowl for 9.
One other harbinger adopted, nonetheless, in Harmer’s subsequent over. Prest, but to settle after his first-innings efforts, hacked impetuously down the bottom however Walter at long-on could not cling on. This time, nonetheless, it did not appear to matter; Harmer merely turned on the high of his mark and induced Prest right into a flinch off the pads to quick leg to go away Hampshire 32 for 4 and floundering.
And but, Dawson’s arrival to hitch Vince, allied to Essex’s essential lapses, would flip the afternoon’s expectations upside-down.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket