Harmer's career-best haul helps Essex dominate Derbyshire

Simon Harmer of Essex celebrates taking the wicket of Derbyshire's Alex Hughes at  the Cloudfm County Ground

Simon Harmer of Essex celebrates taking the wicket of Derbyshire's Alex Hughes at the Cloudfm County Ground - Credit: Nick Wood/TGS Photo

Simon Harmer twirled career-best figures of nine for 80 to befuddle Derbyshire as Essex headed towards a second LV= Insurance County Championship victory of the season.

Off-spinner Harmer’s analysis were the 13th best of all-time for Essex, 18th best against Derbyshire and the second-best ever at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford.

The visitors were asked to follow on, having been rolled for 146, but improved second time around led by Brooke Guest and Billy Godleman.

Guest, who had top-scored with a manful 49 in the Harmer rout, bagged his maiden first-class fifty as Derbyshire ended the day on 97 for one, trailing by 169.

Guest and Alex Hughes batted for almost an hour to put on 44, after a washed-out first session, before Harmer, who had taken two in the day two gloom, started to wreak havoc.

Hughes ran past one to be stumped by Adam Wheater and Wayne Madsen, after striking two sixes, turned around the corner to leg slip.

Matt Critchley slogged a boundary over midwicket before giving Harmer his 23rd first-class five-wicket haul with a caught and bowled.

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It wasn’t a classical Harmer Chelmsford pitch, with the ball not overly turning or bouncing, rather a perfect example of slight variation, confidence and reputation.

Although he got a helping hand from Ryan ten Doeschate at short leg to dismiss Harvey Hosein – with the 40-year-old reacting unbelievably to snaffle low down.

Guest, a day after turning 24, recorded his career-best 49 in a one-man rearguard before being adjudged caught bat-pad by ten Doeschate.

Billy Stanlake lost his middle stump and Dustin Melton was brilliantly caught and bowled as Harmer bested his previous best of nine of 95.

Ironically, both Harmer’s attempts at a ten-wicket haul have been thwarted by part-time spinner Dan Lawrence.

In four overs before bad light, and subsequently rain, Jamie Porter bowled Luis Reece – who was playing a short not befitting the situation of needing to bat a day and 40-odd overs to save a draw.

But Guest and Godleman showed resilience to put on 83, and more importantly, chew up 174 balls.

Guess beat his personal best for the second time in the day by bringing up his fifty in 89 deliveries and ended the day unbeaten on 56.

Harmer said: “It is a performance-based sport and there are days where you do well and there are games were you don’t do well. I’ve had a few games recently where I haven’t taken many wickets so when it is your day you have to cash in big.

“On a batting wicket you can’t get 50 you need to get 150 and if it is turning or there is something there for me, I need to get big wicket hauls. You never know when the next wicket is going to come. I felt like I cashed in today.

“A 10-for is an ambition. It is something you look back at the end of your career and if you have ticked off that it would be really special. It is in the back of the mind and I have come close twice – and it has been Dan Lawrence on both times!

“We haven’t won too many games this season so the biggest thing for us is to win. It would be pointless for me to have taken nine wickets if the game ends in a draw.

“It is nice to take wickets in a winning contribution and hopefully we can put it together tomorrow.”