Worcs v Essex: Siddle and Harmer inspire champions to win
PUBLISHED: 18:54 13 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:54 13 May 2018
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An inspired opening spell from Peter Siddle and the spin of Simon Harmer enabled champions Essex to come out on top in a see-saw battle with bottom-placed Worcestershire by 32 runs at Blackfinch New Road.
Australian paceman Siddle – in the last match of his current spell with Essex – signed off in style as he sent back Brett D’Oliveira, Tom Fell and first innings century-maker Joe Clarke during an initial burst of 9-3-14-3 and finished with the excellent figures of 5-37 from 18 overs.
Harmer, who picked up 72 wickets last season, worked his way through the middle and lower order as Worcestershire, who were set a 215 target, were bowled out for 182 and suffered a fourth defeat in five matches. The South African ended with 5-43 from 21.3 overs.
Siddle’s compatriot, Travis Head, offered prolonged resistance for the home side in his highest score (62) for his adopted county.
But his efforts proved in vain in what was an excellent advert for county cricket on a wicket offering encouragement for seamers in particular throughout.
Essex will now look to kick start the season after securing a second win – with New Zealand paceman Neil Wagner having arrived in this country to replace Siddle.
But Worcestershire, although they will take many plus points from their performance in this game, are already facing an uphill battle to remain in the top flight after being promoted as champions.
Essex had resumed the day on 143-4 – only 82 runs ahead – and the remainder of their innings was dominated by the batting of Dan Lawrence and the fiery bowling of Worcestershire paceman Josh Tongue.
Lawrence achieved his first half century of the season and went onto make 71 while Tongue’s five-wicket haul enabled him to record his career-best match bowling figures of 38.5-15-98-9.
Essex suffered two early setbacks as nightwatchman Jamie Porter (9) was run out when called through for a quick single by Lawrence and Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate (4) holed out to Fell at cover off Joe Leach.
Lawrence and James Foster decided to counter-attack and reeled off a succession of boundaries during a partnership of 63 in 13 overs.
Tongue returned to break the stand as Foster (24) was undone by a ball of extra bounce and caught behind.
He ended Lawrence’s impressive knock when he was trapped lbw with his 135-ball knock containing 10 boundaries.
The second new ball wrapped up the innings as Siddle (2) went for an expansive pull and was bowled and Simon Harmer (23) lobbed a Tongue delivery straight to mid on.
Siddle took the new ball and quickly made inroads with D’Oliveira (11) caught behind, Fell (10) bowled and Clarke (2) leg before to leave Worcestershire on 52-3.
Opener Mitchell defied the attack for 23 overs in making 26 but then was caught by Ravi Bopara diving away to his left at leg slip off Harmer.
When Siddle returned to have Ben Cox (9) leg before at 97-5, Essex were hot favourites to register a second win of the campaign.
Australian batsman Head and Ed Barnard brought another twist to the match with a stand of 63 in 19 overs.
Head completed a restrained but invaluable second half century for his adopted county from 92 balls with just three boundaries.
But the next delivery saw Barnard (29) bowled behind his legs by Harmer after aiming a sweep and then home debutant Ben Twohig (1) holed out to deep mid-wicket.
Leach (4) then pushed forward to Harmer and was caught at short leg and Tongue (3) perished at second slip off Siddle.
Head was last out trying to hit Harmer over the top and Ten Doeschate held onto the chance in the deep.