England ticked off another couple of objectives in their preparation for next week’s first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge on the way to victory over Essex at Chelmsford. Graeme Swann enjoyed a lengthy bowl and showed no sign of either elbow or arm injury on his way to figures of five for 68, while Jonny Bairstow looked relatively fluent in making 28 in the morning.
Bairstow resumed with Ian Bell at the start of the day, with the only question mark over when England would declare their second innings. He played nicely but gave Boyd Rankin his first Essex wicket when on 28. The thought was that Kevin Pietersen would then walk out for what was, in essence, only a glorified net following yesterday’s events. However, Matt Prior strode out and raced to 21 before England declared to set Essex 415 to win.
The home side began well against an out-of-sorts Steven Finn, who is a clear favourite to see off the challenge from Tim Bresnan to complete England’s pace attack in Nottingham but did himself no favours today. He lacked a bit of his usual venom and conceded 46 runs from his 11 overs.
Essex openers Hamish Rutherford and Jaik Mickleburgh were the main beneficiaries and added 91 in little more than 19 overs to give England a slight scare. However, once the wickets began to fall they didn’t stop until Essex were all out for 186.
Swann took the first three to fall, bowling Rutherford for 45, having the impressive Mickleburgh caught for his second half-century of the match, and Owais Shah sent back without scoring. Graham Onions then took over and ensured that, amid all the talk of Finn, Bresnan and Rankin, his name would stay in the selectors’ thoughts. He removed the bulk of the Essex middle-order and finally ended with four for 43 from 11 overs.
David Masters made an unexpected return to the game after being replaced by Reece Topley yesterday and was ninth and last man out to give Swann his five-wicket haul. Yet another Essex substitute player, Greg Smith, who replaced the injured Tom Westley late on, finished not out on 10, with none of Tymal Mills, Boyd Rankin or Topley bothering to bat.
And so a bizarre game ended with England having, nonetheless, achieved most of their objectives ahead of next Wednesday’s first Test. The England management will also be pleased with the form shown by Nick Compton since he was dropped; the 30 year-old in the runs again for Worcestershire against the Australians today.
© Cricket World 2013