Essex start title defence with three day win over Lancashire

Essex's Jamie Porter took nine wickets in their season-opening win over Lancashire. Picture: PA SPOR

Essex's Jamie Porter took nine wickets in their season-opening win over Lancashire. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Essex collected their first win of the Specsavers County Championship season when they despatched Lancashire by 31 runs with more than a day to spare at Chelmsford, writes Martin Smith.

Their defence of the title had started in disappointing style last week at Headingley when the champions did not get on the pitch for all four days and pocketed just five points. They added a welcome 19 points from this game after being skittled for 150 on the first day.

However, Essex faced serious resistance from Alex Davies, Jordan Clark and latterly Joe Mennie, who all posted half-centuries. While they were at the crease the improbable target of 320 was not beyond the bounds of possibility. Joe Mennie thumped three sixes in a third half-century of the innings that only ended when Jamie Porter removed his leg-stump to end the game.

Davies had taken the fight to Essex for 39 overs while compiling a flawless 71 before he was knocked off his feet by Porter after facing 85 balls and hitting 11 fours.

Clark took up the gauntlet upon Davies’s departure. But when he was eighth man out, with 77 runs required, the red rose wilted visibly and they finished 32 runs short. Clark’s belligerent innings lasted 80 balls, and included five fours and a six, while 104 runs were knocked off the target during his stay at the wicket.

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Mennie, who departed for 56 after a 91-ball cameo, ensured the Lancashire tail wagged to the extent that the last pair put on 42, with Matt Parkinson contributing just four.

Porter’s four wickets for 54 in the innings gave him nine for 80 in the match.

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It was a satisfying, if ultimately nervy win for Essex as Lancashire were the only side they did not beat in their title season, when they won 10 of the 14-game programme.

Essex’s former Australia Test bowler Peter Siddle, who claimed his first wickets since joining Essex in the second innings (two for 55), said: “I felt I bowled well in the first innings, but just didn’t have the wickets to show for it. But it was nice to get off the mark today, get a couple of wickets and a run-out. It was great just to play a part.

“We always knew it was going to be hard work.”

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