Current Match Report – Essex vs Derbyshire Group 1 2021
A day of sepulchral gloom in Chelmsford, pierced all through by the ECG floodlights, was lit up by a blazing innings from Dan Lawrence, as Essex tried to make up for misplaced time of their match in opposition to Derbyshire … and just about succeeded. Lawrence’s unbeaten 152 from 133 balls was the batting equal of a souped-up Vauxhall Nova revving its manner up the primary drag, and leaving tyre-marks over a sequence of beleaguered Derbyshire bowlers.
It was unhealthy mild that got here to the rescue for the guests, on the finish of an over from legspinner Matt Critchley through which Lawrence slammed the primary three balls for six and ended up mendacity on his entrance after an unsuccessful try to membership a fourth down the bottom. The ball nonetheless went for 4 and Lawrence acknowledged the applause from his team-mates for reaching 150 from his place within the dust, even when six sixes was now out of the query. “I assumed it was on,” Lawrence stated with a smile afterwards.
Derbyshire’s respite was transient, nonetheless, as an Essex declaration adopted by an enchancment within the mild allowed the house facet to press their benefit – even whereas restricted to bowling spin from each ends. Simon Harmer eliminated Luis Reece lbw, not providing a shot, in his fourth over and Lawrence then bagged himself a wicket, too, as Billy Godleman turned the ball to brief leg. Derbyshire’s captain briefly stood his floor, which was about as a lot resistance as his workforce put up all day.
Essex claimed a 3rd earlier than the shut, Harmer having Leus de Plooy taken by Lawrence at gully, because the defending champions started to circle their prey. The specter of extra unhealthy climate, following a first-day washout, should still encourage Derbyshire hopes of an escape; these of a extra darkly comedian persuasion warned that it might all be finished and dusted on Saturday.
That Essex had been in such a commanding place come the shut was largely right down to a freewheeling third-wicket partnership of 221 in 36.4 overs between Lawrence and his captain, Tom Westley. Essex haven’t hit their straps but on this marketing campaign, as Westley acknowledged, however they’ve given themselves an opportunity of dodging the weather to report what can be solely a second win in six video games.
“It was disappointing not with the ability to get on the market yesterday in a little bit of a must-win sport for us,” Lawrence stated. “So it was superb from our openers to place me and Tommy in a state of affairs to go and specific ourselves. We knew we needed to get forward of the sport as shortly as doable.”
Having scored three fifties within the opening 5 rounds of the Championship, with a excessive rating of 90 on a deathly flat floor at Worcester, Lawrence had hinted at good type with out making the kind of imposing scores that may assure his involvement within the upcoming Take a look at sequence in opposition to New Zealand (choice is because of be introduced subsequent week). This was a bristling reminder of his kaleidoscopic skills – albeit in opposition to a Derbyshire assault that includes three gamers making their first appearances of the season – as Lawrence raced to his quickest first-class hundred earlier than coming off in sight of a profession finest.
“It was fairly a giant factor for me to get to that landmark, as a result of I’ve scored a number of runs already with out getting tons of,” he stated. “I’ve scored a number of fifties – so it was good to get there after which simply play with some freedom. Each batter would know it is the very best feeling on the earth batting after 100 so it was good to have licence.”
The primary of Lawrence’s 16 fours was pushed with a excessive entrance elbow by way of mid-off and he was quickly signalling his intent to crack on, windmilling a reduce in opposition to Fynn Hudson-Prentice over cowl level after which taking the identical bowler for 3 boundaries in 5 balls a number of overs later. His half-century got here from 66 balls, and he instantly went up a gear, nonchalantly mowing Dustin Melton over midwicket for his first six.
Billy Stanlake, who made an eventful Derbyshire debut, was casually flipped into the seats in entrance of the makeshift press field at deep backward sq. leg to take Lawrence into the 90s, and he introduced up three figures for the primary time this summer time through a nudge off Critchley, the landmark acknowledged with a curled fist pump earlier than turning to take the applause from his team-mates. Critchley was handled extra severely as Essex rattled on in the direction of 5 batting factors, one slog-sweep over midwicket harking back to Lawrence’s hold-the-pose six on Take a look at debut in Galle earlier this 12 months.
Westley additionally scored a bristling hundred, his third of the season – in reaching three figures from 109 balls, he did so three deliveries faster than Lawrence – because the pair constructed on a century opening stand through the morning session. Derbyshire hit again after lunch by way of Stanlake, enjoying his first first-class match for the reason that 2019-20 Sheffield Protect season, however had been largely left to marvel on the knowledge of their resolution to bowl first, taken 24 hours earlier.
Essex had reached 132 for 0 at lunch, going at greater than 4 runs an over regardless of a inexperienced tinge to the floor and a moist air to proceedings after persistent rain ruined any probability of play on Thursday. The scoring fee was aided by Stanlake’s hassle with front-foot no-balls throughout his opening spell, as Alastair Cook dinner and Nick Browne took benefit of some insipid bowling to set a belligerent tempo in Essex’s makes an attempt to beat not solely an opponent low on confidence however a poor forecast for the weekend.
The sight of Stanlake taking the brand new ball promised intrigue. The 6ft 7in Australian, capped in each limited-overs codecs, had solely performed eight first-class fixtures throughout 5 years however got here to Derbyshire professing an eagerness to work on his red-ball sport. An preliminary 4 overs introduced six no-balls and virtually as many aborted makes an attempt at working in, prompting the concern that Stanlake’s enthusiasm may be short-lived.
Nonetheless, he found a significantly better rhythm from the River Finish when returning shortly earlier than lunch, beating Cook dinner with successive deliveries – certainly one of which was too scorching for Harvey Hosein to carry on to behind the stumps. He was rewarded for his perseverance after the interval, when Browne drove footlessly to be caught at slip (thus decreasing his first-class common in opposition to Derbyshire to a mere 213.25). Cook dinner then spooned a drive into the covers: Massive Billy had landed Essex’s massive fish, however there was the small matter of Lawrence and Westley to return.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick