Essex pair ensure County have to settle for draw

James Middlebrook was the pick of the Northants bowlers in their draw at EssexJames Middlebrook was the pick of the Northants bowlers in their draw at Essex
James Middlebrook was the pick of the Northants bowlers in their draw at Essex
Ryan ten Doeschate’s first Championship century of the summer and a fighting 95 from skipper James Foster enabled Essex to win back some credibility from the final day of their LV=County Championship Division Two match against Northamptonshire at Colchester.

Their efforts helped Essex post a total of 396 in response to the visitors 531, who then responded with 54-0 declared in their second innings as the match petered out to a draw.

The only chance of a positive result after the third day had been completely washed out by rain was dependent on Northants capturing the remaining Essex first innings wickets cheaply after the home side had resumed on 187-5 in pursuit of 382 to avoid the follow-on.

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But thanks largely to ten Doeschate and Foster, that was to prove beyond them, the sixth-wicket pair carrying their partnership to 180 before they were separated on the stroke of lunch.

In the same over in which he reached his century, ten Doeschate departed when he turned off-spinner James Middlebrook into the hands of Ben Duckett at forward short leg.

Ten Doeschate’s 103 from 144 deliveries contained nine fours and a straight driven six against Middlebrook, and Foster looked set to claim his second century of the campaign before he, too, was removed by Middlebrook. His effort had brought him 11 boundaries.

Graham Napier weighed in with a fluent 45 from 66 balls while David Masters, who ensured that the follow-on would be averted when driving Muhammad Azharullah to the boundary, was left unbeaten on 37 when the Essex innings was brought to an end.

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Essex will no doubt have been disappointed that they were unable to secure the additional four runs for maximum batting points but their final total represented a fine recovery after they had lost half their side for 103 on the second day.

Middlebrook, playing against his former county had the satisfaction of emerging as Northants most successful bowler with 3-79 from 24 overs while Trent Copeland finished with 3-81 from 33 overs. The remaining wickets were shared by Steven Crook and Azharullah.

Left with a minimum of 32 overs of the match to play, openers Stephen Peters and Middlebrook played out 12 overs before the two captains shook hands on a draw as Essex collected eight points and Northamptonshire 10.