Essex on the brink after tough day three at home to Notts

PUBLISHED: 19:15 22 June 2018

Matt Milnes celebrates taking the wicket of Alastair Cook during Essex CCC vs Nottinghamshire CCC (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).

Matt Milnes celebrates taking the wicket of Alastair Cook during Essex CCC vs Nottinghamshire CCC (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

Essex (206 & 88-4) trail Nottinghamshire (380 & 266) by 352 runs

A hobbling Tom Moores, batting with a runner, launched a blitz of sixes in a whirlwind 87 that enabled Nottinghamshire to set a beleaguered Essex a near-impossible target of 441 in 131 overs and Notts had four Essex batsmen back in the pavilion by the close.

Moores, the 21-year-old son of head coach Peter, took a particular shine to Essex spinner Simon Harmer, who he deposited all around Chelmsford in an over that went for 27. In all, Moores hit seven fours and seven sixes in an 80-ball knock, and was the only contributor to a last-wicket stand of 58 from 52 balls with Harry Gurney, who was not out nought from 13 balls.

With a series of pulls, straight drives, many lofted, and unorthodox shots out of the one-day repertoire, Moores followed up his maiden century in the last Specsavers County Championship match, at Taunton. He recorded his second highest first-class score despite turning his right ankle during wicketkeeping drills before the start of the third day.

Essex had agreed at lunchtime that Moores could bat with a runner, and Jake Libby duly walked out alongside him at the fall of the seventh wicket on 143. His efforts almost doubled Notts’ score and put the game far beyond Essex’s reach. Moores did not appear behind the stumps later with Riki Wessels taking the gloves briefly before young 2nd XI player Tom Keast arrived from Trent Bridge.

Essex’s chase got off to the worse possible start as their top-order folded again. Alastair Cook went lbw in the second over without scoring, playing back to a ball from Matt Milnes that kept low, and Varun Chopra’s middle stump was knocked out of the ground in Milnes’s next over. To compound that, stand-in captain Tom Westley was beaten by one from Luke Fletcher that nipped back and struck off-stump.

It was Cook’s second duck in nine innings for the county this summer, Westley’s fifth single-figure score in 11, while Chopra has totalled just 92 from eight Championship outings.

Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara set about trying to save the game in the early evening, and their patient partnership reached 55 in 20 overs when Lawrence was caught and bowled by Samit Patel for 30. At that point, with nearly five overs to go, Essex sent in Jamie Porter as nightwatchman, and he saw out 19 balls without scoring. Bopara was unbeaten on 33.

But the day belonged to Moores. At the start of his innings, he was struck firmly on the boot by Neil Wagner. It did not discomfort Moores in the least as he was soon pulling Harmer for four and sweep-swiping his first six from the following ball. He went down on one knee to cart Jamie Porter over midwicket for his second six.

But it was the return of Harmer, who went for 78 from his 15 overs, that sparked the fireworks. The first ball was thumped over long-off for six to reach a 63-ball fifty. The next was driven for a one-bounce boundary, followed by a swept four. There were further sixes, one on to the press-box roof and another to long-leg, before the over was completed with a single into the deep.

Moores’s sixth six brought up the fifty partnership for the last wicket, and he added a second in the only over of the match bowled by Ravi Bopara. Moores finally departed, edging Porter behind.

The day had not started so promising for Notts when they lost nightwatchman Milnes without addition to the overnight total. Milnes played down the wrong line and had his off-stump knocked out of the ground by Matt Quinn, his second of three wickets for 23 from 12 overs.

Patel joined Libby for a steady third-wicket stand of 48 in 12 overs before he pushed forward to Coles and sent Adam Wheater tumbling to his right to take the catch low down. Ross Taylor, centurion in the first innings, lasted just seven balls second time around for four before he got a bottom edge to Coles as he tried to cut and was bowled as Notts lost to wickets in 15 balls.

A third was not long coming. Libby had been stuck on 49 as the wickets fell, but finally moved on to his fifty from 88 balls. But he perished on 51 as Wagner found some exaggerated movement off the pitch. Switching around the wicket, the New Zealand pace bowler slanted one in to remove leg-stump.

Wagner added his second straight after lunch when he got one to climb and take the edge of Wessels’s bat. Billy Root had just reverse-swept Harmer for four to reach 29 when he popped the next ball into Cook’s hands at third slip.

Luke Fletcher’s 45-ball 18 ended when he backed up too far and Coles deflected a straight drive from Moores on to the stumps. Matt Carter followed when he swished outside off-stump at Quinn and Chopra, the lone slip, took the catch. After that it was the Tom Moores show.

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