Essex 142 (Bresnan 3-26, Coad 3-27, Brooks 3-63, Lawrence 48, Harmer 36) and 97 for 4 require a further 141 runs to beat Yorkshire 50 (Cook 5-28, Siddle 4-7) and 329 (Brook 124, Bairstow 50, Siddle 4-65)
A quite splendid 124 from 19 year old Harry Brook has put Yorkshire in a great position to end Essex’s unbeaten run in the County Championship that stretches back to September 2016.
On a day of yet more discombobulating twists and turns, Brook’s innings was a cut above anything else on show. After the dizzying lunacy of the first day, on which 20 wickets fell before tea, a sense of normality finally descended on Chelmsford in the shape of Che Pujara, Brook and Joe Root.
Resuming this morning on 161 for 2, Pujara and Brook took the novel approach of building their innings, blocking the straight balls, working the wayward ones into gaps and batting as if they believed they could be there all day, until Pujara inexplicably shouldered arms to a delivery from Siddle that smashed into his off stump half way up.
This brought Joe Root to the crease and after his first baller yesterday he looked determined to make amends. Not quite at his fluent best he nonetheless provided the perfect foil for the 19-year-old Brook as he shepherded him to his maiden first class hundred. At 19 years and 72 days old, Brook became the fourth youngest Yorkshireman to complete a century after Len Hutton, Bill Athey and Azeem Rafiq. And this innings was no fluke. It was expertly constructed. He never fell into a rut, he attempted no injudicious shots (until he was out skying Harmer to long-on) and refused to be unnerved by a pitch on which no one else had prospered.
By the time he was out his 124 would prove more than Lyth, Root, Ballance, Westley, Cook and Bopara could muster in both their innings. Head Selector Ed Smith and Angus Fraser, who were seated in front of the commentary box for much of the day, will have been hugely impressed by what they saw, but equally frustrated that older, more likely selections were failing to master the conditions anything like as well as the precocious Brook.
It’s certainly true to say that this pitch is at its most treacherous when used in tandem with a new, hard ball, but it’s hard to understand exactly why Yorkshire’s 2nd innings imploded much as their first had. From the sunlit uplands of 276 for 3 in the 71st over they lost their last seven wickets for 53 runs. Root will be the most annoyed after dragging a wide ball from Ravi Bopara onto his stumps to trigger the collapse.
Credit is also due to Essex who stuck to tight, disciplined lines, especially after lunch. Peter Siddle picked up four more wickets to finish with match figures of 8 for 72 and Jamie Porter was particularly effective with the new ball, taking another three to add to his burgeoning tally at Chelmsford.
Having induced yet another twist in this endlessly fascinating game, Essex would have fancied their chances of knocking off the 238 set for victory, but once again the new ball proved the batsmen’s undoing. Both Nick Browne and Alastair Cook were dropped early in their innings but the introduction of Steve Patterson altered the game for the umpteenth time.
Cook had looked in prime touch, stroking some elegant cover drives (yes really) and finding the gaps in his 33 ball 26 before he was undone by the ball of the match. A ball so good it’s worth playing on a perpetual loop in a hipster art club in Shoreditch. Maybe convert it into black and white for the full effect. From around the wicket it pitched on middle before demolishing the off-stump. Within three balls Tom Westley was gone, lbw to Patterson for a third consecutive duck, spanning seven balls.
Six overs later Patterson repeated the trick getting rid of Browne and Bopara in the same over. At 55 for 4 thoughts turned, like yesterday to the possibility of an extra half hour but Lawrence and Ten Doeschate dug in, clung on and are both there to hunt down the remaining 141 required for victory.
It looks like a tall order but the only session where batting has looked easy was this morning’s under cloudless skies with a 31 over old ball. The forecast is for more of the same and the ball is 32 overs old. Just saying ..