Warwickshire 161 and 67 for 1 need a further 336 runs to beat Essex 245 and 316 for 9 (Cook 83, Lawrence 74, Rhodes 4-38)
Liam Banks dug in with great determination as Warwickshire set about batting out a minimum of 121 overs to prevent a heavy defeat at Chelmsford.
Banks was 36 not out as Warwickshire reached 67 for 1 in their pursuit of 401 to pull off a mission improbable and record a third victory of the season. More realistically, the capture of another nine wickets stand between Essex and the seventh victory in eight games that would take them to the top of the Specsavers County Championship by just four points, assuming Yorkshire do not let slip their stranglehold over Somerset at Headingley.
The Warwickshire openers took advantage of some wide open spaces in the field to pass fifty in the 13th over. But Aaron Beard’s arrival into the attack heralded the breakthrough Essex wanted with Will Rhodes lbw for 25. Warwickshire made it to the close without further alarm, still 334 runs from their target.
The match had essentially been put beyond Warwickshire’s reach during an eighth-wicket rampage between Dan Lawrence and Simon Harmer that extended Essex’s lead from 299 to nearly 400 in just 20 overs. Both batsmen fell straight after tea, but not before they had put 84 valuable runs on the board. Lawrence departed to the second ball of the final session, charging Rhodes and nicking to Tim Ambrose for 74.
That gave Rhodes his fourth wicket of the innings, and ninth of the match, at a combined personal cost of 55 runs. The part-time seamer’s first-innings 5 for 17 was a career-best; his 4 for 38 in the second constituted the next best.
Harmer followed without addition, attempting to hit Jeetan Patel over the top and being caught on the long-leg boundary by Banks.
Alastair Cook had laid the foundations in the morning towards the eventual declaration with a carefree 83 from 168 balls. He was the senior partner in a second-wicket stand of 63 off 26 overs with nightwatchman Matt Quinn that frustrated Warwickshire for an hour and a half. Quinn contributed nine to the partnership from 69 balls.
Cook hit 11 boundaries in his sixth Championship half-century of the season, and went on the attack once he had reached that milestone, hitting Patel for three of them in quick order.
The return of Rhodes accounted for Cook when he was pinned lbw. The Yorkshireman had another in the same over when Tom Westley was caught behind wafting outside off stump. Quinn finally departed next over, nicking behind as Essex collapsed from 135 for 1 to 139 for 4.
Rishi Patel fell to the first ball after lunch when he deflected a ball from pad on to bat to Banks at second slip. Brookes claimed a second wicket in the over when Ryan ten Doeschate lost his middle stump as he attempted to force the pace. Adam Wheater had scored 21 at almost a run-a-ball when he reverse-swept at Patel and Rhodes threw himself from first slip to where second slip would have been to take the catch.
Lawrence rattled along apace and clobbered Brookes off the back-foot for four to bring up his second fifty of the match from 101 balls.
Essex took the field in the evening without wicketkeeper Wheater, who had struggled in Warwickshire’s first innings after taking a blow to his thumb. Will Buttleman replaced him behind the stumps.
Figy John century as UAE beat Canada; Bangladesh thump Zimbabwe
UAE Under-19s 232 for 2 (John 102*, Lakra 66) beat Canada Under-19s 231 for 8 (Patel 90, Sharma 2-42, Lakra 2-39) by eight wickets
UAE opener Figy John scored this Under-19 World Cup’s first century, a thoroughly smooth, 101-ball 102 that helped his side beat Canada by eight wickets in Bloemfontein. The 18-year old, who had last year played with the senior team in ODIs, was at the crease from start to finish as a chase of 232 proved quite straightforward. UAE benefited from an all-round performance from their captain as well, Aryan Lakra picked up 2 for 39 in 10 overs and returned as opener to score a half-century as well.
Canada had a solid performer in their top order as well – Mihir Patel scored 90 off 105 balls – but they couldn’t take advantage of it due to a couple of mini-collapses. Their score, after being put in, lurched from 133 for 1 to 137 for 4 in the middle overs and then from 220 for 5 to 226 for 8 at the end. Patel did his best, hitting nine fours in his innings and contributing nearly 40% of his team’s total, but it wasn’t enough.
Bangladesh Under-19s 132 for 1 (Emon 58*) beat Zimbabwe Under-19s 137 for 6 (Marumani 31, Shamim 1-23) by nine wickets
Bangladesh’s batsmen ran riot in Potchefstroom, Parvez Hossain Emon whacking an unbeaten 33-ball 58 and leading a nine-wicket victory over Zimbabwe.
Prior to their arrival in South Africa, Bangladesh had banked on their batting stars to perhaps go all the way to the final and they are certainly living up to their word. Having kept Zimbabwe to 137 for 6 in 28.1 overs – bad weather forced the first innings to end right there – Bangladesh came out with great purpose. Opener Tanzid Hasan hit six of the 10 balls he faced to the boundary, making 32 runs in the process and though he couldn’t carry on, his partner Emon ensured victory would be achieved in just the 12th over. Zimbabwe would rue their own batting performance with plenty of players getting starts but no-one making more than Tadiwanashe Marumani’s 31.
Match abandoned New Zealand Under-19s 195 for 2 (White 80, Mariu 51) v Japan Under-19s
New Zealand dominated the contest against Japan with openers Ollie White and Rhys Mariu scoring fairly quick half-centuries but the rain in Potchefstroom allowed for only 28.5 overs of play. The match was abandoned thereafter with both teams sharing a point each.
Expect a Rashid storm against the Hurricanes
January 19: Hobart Hurricanes v Adelaide Strikers
Our XI: Mathew Wade, Jake Weatherald, George Bailey, Ben McDermott, Travis Head, Jonathan Wells, Rashid Khan (capt), Qais Ahmed (vice-capt), Nathan Ellis, Micheal Neser, Scott Boland
NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about a late injury (or other relevant updates)
Captain: Rashid Khan
The Hurricanes have struggled with the bat and have a weakened batting line up. Rashid Khan is coming up against this opposition for the first time this season and would be looking to display his skills. Hurricanes have been the worst team against spin this tournament and one can expect Rashid to add to his 16 wickets.
Vice-captain: Qais Ahmed
Similar to the Hurricanes, the Strikers have also been struggling with the bat in the last few games. Qais Ahmed has 11 wickets at an economy of 7.91 and a best of 4 for 12. He could control the middle overs, which has been a bit of a problem for the Strikers.
Hurricanes desperately need a win and Wade is key to that. Wade scored 61 runs against the Heat but has failed in the other two matches. Wade’s foundation is vital in ensuring the likes of David Miller, George Bailey and Ben McDermott can regain some form and help the Hurricanes get past the Strikers at home.
With 306 runs from 10 matches, Wells has been the best performer for the Strikers. In the absence of Alex Carey, it is up to Wells to take the Strikers to a good total. His average is 61.20, and his strike rate is 131.89. The strike rate could have been a bit higher, but is also a function of the situations he has come in to bat.
With Riley Meredith injured, the Hurricanes have struggled with the ball. Boland’s been the key for them having taken a wicket in every match he has played in. Boland has eight wickets from five matches at an impressive economy of 7.44.
Head is yet to start scoring in this season. The captain has played just two matches but has been dismissed cheaply on both occasions. One could take a punt on Head to lead by example, as the game against the lower ranked Hurricanes is key to the Strikers’ chances of qualifying.
Point to note The Match is being played at a venue that has not hosted too many games. Wait for the toss and pitch report before you choose your captain and vice-captain.
Far from an endangered breed: Dom Bess stands up for his trade
At the start of the third day’s play, there was an intriguing chat on commentary between Matt Prior and Kevin Pietersen – yes, TalkSPORT has bought the pair together; they’ll be pairing Ian Botham and Ian Chappell next – over the future of conventional off-spinners in Test cricket.
The conclusion, to paraphrase only a little, was they are an endangered breed. But, unlike the rhinoceros, Pietersen didn’t seem especially concerned with their preservation. Again, to paraphrase only a little, both he and Prior felt that, in the modern game, any off-spinner without some mystery or at least the ability to challenge both edges of the bat was likely to struggle.
But here, for the second Test in succession, Dom Bess supplied the case for the defence. Having admirably performed a holding role in Cape Town, he showed he could also perform a more attacking role here. Taking advantage of a dry surface, he showed the conventional skills – most of all control, but also subtle changes of angle and pace – still had a place in the modern game. Already he has become the first England spinner since Derek Underwood, in 1975, to claim the first five wickets in a Test innings and the third-youngest England spinner (after Pat Pocock and Underwood) to claim a five-for in Test history. If the rain relents, there is a good chance there will be more to come.
It’s true, Bess does not possess the eye-catching skills of Rashid Khan, Sunil Narine or Saqlain Mushtaq. He cannot turn the ball both ways. There is no doosra. Analysts will not be glued to their screens working out how makes the ball fizz and dip and, the cynics have suggested, he could only take wickets on the helpful surfaces of Taunton where, until today, six of his eight five-wicket hauls in first-class cricket had come. Only a few months ago, he was unable to get into the Somerset team and went on loan to Yorkshire.
But what he can do, at this stage of his career, is maintain his line and length. He has conceded only seven boundaries – and an average of 1.64 runs per over – in his 31 overs to date. As a result, he has kept the batsmen under pressure. And what he can do, at this stage of his career, is apply a series of small variations to lure batsmen into errors and take advantage of helpful surfaces.
The wicket of Faf du Plessis provided a fine example of this. The South Africa captain had just driven him for a couple of fours. Bess responded by dropping his arm a little lower, gaining just a little drift away from the batsman to draw him into a forward prod, only to turn the ball sharply off the pitch and take the inside edge. Ollie Pope, who looks terrific at short-leg, did the rest. Any off-spinner would have been happy with that.
There were other moments which showcased those subtle skills. By changing the seam position – including bowling with a scrambled seam – he manages to gain variation from some balls skidding on and others gripping and turning. Dean Elgar, who was probably the one man in the top five to play Mark Wood with any confidence, was defeated by just such a delivery: coming forward to one he expected to turn, he was slightly late as the ball skidded through a little quicker, taking his inside edge before ballooning off his pad to short-leg. Again, that’s fine bowling.
The ECB deserve some credit for Bess’ development. At the end of the season, they and Somerset agreed he should be given an extended break to clear his head after a sometimes frustrating few months. As he has previously said, he “lost a lot of confidence within my game” after “falling off the [England] radar a bit” after his brief spell in the England side in 2018.
Having allowed him that time, they identified the ideal coaches or mentors he could learn from – they were after spinners who relied on subtle variations rather than extravagant natural ability – and invited him on a spin bowling camp in Mumbai. Those coaches were Rangana Herath, the Sri Lanka left-arm spinner, and Richard Dawson, who played seven Tests for England as an off-spinner in the early years of this century.
These were wise choices. Herath, in particular, enjoyed an outstanding career as a traditional spinner. And somewhere along the way, Bess has learned that by concentrating on building pressure and by embracing those little variations, he gives himself the best chance of success. In these two Tests, he has looked a better bowler than he did when the Championship season finished in September. He also credited Jeetan Patel, who is with England as a spin bowling consultant, for his advice in helping him gain more bounce and pace.
“That ball to Faf was something I’d been working on with Herath,” Bass said. “I started around the wicket and he came at me quite a lot, so I tried to change the angle. I dropped my arm a little and it bit off the surface. It’s really nice to work on something and see it work.
“Then with Elgar – who I played with at Somerset – I wanted to make sure I was always challenging him. I looked to go a little under the ball and luckily it kicked on a bit. Some spun and some didn’t and Ollie Pope held a great catch.
“I’ll cherish this for a long time because I’ve worked very hard for days like this. Technically I’m getting a lot stronger through repetition. There’s still a lot of work to do but hopefully there’s a lot more to come.”
But before giving the ECB too much praise for their wisdom, it should be acknowledged that Bess was not in the original tour party. And as time goes on the selection of Matt Parkinson, who played four Championship games for Lancashire in 2019, looks ever more odd. It must have been painful to see an injury replacement – called up for the ill Jack Leach – who had not enjoyed the benefit of any warm-up games come into the side ahead of him, but, suffice to say, at this stage of his career, Parkinson looks far better suited to the white-ball game.
“I’m gutted for Leachy, he’s had such a tough time these last six weeks,” Bess said. “I know he’ll be happy for me. He’ll be working really hard to get back for the Sri Lanka tour. I’d love to play together. That would be a really nice touch if we could take wickets together for England as well as Somerset.”
Equally, the ECB might do well to reflect on the apparent crackdown on the surfaces at Taunton. It is surely no coincidence that England’s two first-choice spin bowling options have been developed on turning pitches – just as they were in Northampton, not so long ago – which provide scope for lots of bowling. Yes, there is a distinction to be made between acceptably turning surfaces and ones which offer variable bounce and excessive assistance. But it is also no coincidence that Bess responded to this relatively helpful surface in a calm and constructive manner; something which had not always been the case with Moeen Ali, for example, who sometimes looked more comfortable when expectations were lower. Not for the first time, the thought occurred that Somerset deserve credit not censure for their spin-friendly pitches
Bess had a couple of other factors in his favour here. The first, as was the case in Cape Town, is that this South Africa side is, generally, oddly passive against spin. Other sides – better sides – will surely look to hit Bess off his length. The other factor is that he was bowling when his side had 499 runs on the board. That makes a huge difference in terms of the fields set, the mentality of the batsmen and the time the fielding captain can stick with plans. It won’t always be this straightforward.
But everything suggests Bess has the character to cope with adversity. He has shrugged off being unable to get into his own county team, after all, and being called into this tour party without a competitive game since the end of the English season. He made a half-century on Test debut and followed it with 49 as nightwatchman in his second Test. And he’s still just 22. Suddenly Moeen’s exile does not seem quite as urgent an issue.
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