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Match Preview: Lancashire v Essex

Match Preview: Lancashire v Essex

After a trip across to see t’other lot last week, it’s back home to take on an Essex side who have been crowned county champions three times in the last five years - 2017, 2019 and 2020.

Lancashire v Essex
LV= Insurance County Championship, Division One
Emirates Old Trafford
Thursday May 19 - Sunday May 22, 2022, 11am

The latter one of those was the Bob Willis Trophy in the shortened Covid summer.

Essex, who had a week off last week, have drawn three, won one and lost one from their opening five games and sit 31 points behind Lancashire, who have 85 from five in second place having won two, drawn three.

Lancashire have played some excellent cricket so far this season, including in the draw at Yorkshire last week - a game which they dominated from after the first hour onwards.

Another such performance against Sir Alastair Cook and company will hopefully end this early season six-game spell of Championship cricket with a bang before the start of the Vitality Blast next week.

Hassan Ali plays the last game of his short-term overseas spell at Emirates Old Trafford. Hassan is the Division One leading wicket-taker with 24, one ahead of Matt Parkinson.

Opponents:

Essex have had a quiet start to the season. They missed out on Division One of the Conference based Championship last season before ending the campaign by winning Division Two.

Coach Anthony McGrath remains in charge at Chelmsford.

Their overseas players are prolific South African off-spinner Simon Harmer and Australian seamer Mark Steketee, who could play the last game of a short-term overseas spell which is similar in length to Hassan Ali’s, though has been without the same success.

Queenslander Steketee, the leading wicket-taker in the most recent Sheffield Shield season Down Under, has taken 10 wickets in five appearances.

However, he has only taken one wicket in the last two games.

Essex have drawn their last two games, both at home, against Northamptonshire and Yorkshire. They were in with a chance of losing both on the final day.

Sir Alastair Cook leads their runs chart with 481, including three hundreds. He posted two of those against Yorkshire the week before last - the first time he has scored two hundreds in the same first-class game.

Current England batter Dan Lawrence is expected to feature for the first time since late April following a hamstring injury.

Seamers Sam Cook and Shane Snater have both taken 15 wickets apiece, while Harmer hasn’t quite had the impact he would have hoped for with only six wickets in four games so far in 2022.

Opposing Player to Watch:

New ball seamer Sam Cook, otherwise known as Little Chef - due to the presence of Alastair in their squad, has started the season encouragingly.

The 24-year-old Chelmsford-born quick toured Australia with the Lions over the winter and has a very respectable 177 wickets in 52 first-class appearances to his name.

He was the joint third leading wicket-taker in last season’s Championship with 58 from 13 games,

Not a bowler with express pace, he does possess excellent skills - the ability to move the ball both ways and with excellent control to boot.

Previous meeting:

These two sides haven’t met in four-day cricket since 2018 when, whisper it quietly, Essex completed the double.

They won by 31 runs at Chelmsford in April before winning by five wickets at Emirates Old Trafford in June.

The visitors chased 105 to win inside three days after a third-innings collapse from the Red Rose proved costly.

The first innings saw Lancashire, invited to bowl, make 301 early on day two thanks to half-centuries from Shiv Chanderpaul (58) and Jordan Clark (79).

In reply, Sir Alastair Cook’s 58 was the top score in his side’s 302, which included four wickets for Tom Bailey.

Then, the game was decided on day three when Lancashire were skittled for just 105 inside 33 overs, including five wickets for new ball quick Jamie Porter and four for Simon Harmer.

Essex fell to 41-4 in their chase, three wickets for Graham Onions, before Ravi Bopara’s 36 not out saw his side home.

What they said:

Matt Parkinson has hailed the contribution of Pakistan star Hassan Ali, who is this week set to play the final game of his short-term overseas spell with the county.

Fast bowler Hassan, 27, is the Division One’s leading wicket-taker with 24 in four games, just one ahead of leg-spinner Parkinson, who has 23 from the same tally of appearances.

Hassan was rested for the Roses draw at Headingley last week.

“Hassan has been brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” said Parkinson.

“He’s a fantastic lad who has fitted in perfectly. He’s tried his nuts off for four games, and that’s been amazing to see because you don’t always know that with some overseas players when they come over.

“The reports of Hassan were fantastic, and he’s definitely delivered.”

Parkinson has also been speaking about his own start to the season, which has seen him bowl a whopping 245.5 overs - more than any other bowler in the country.

“To bowl the overs that I’ve bowled and we’re only in the middle of May, it’s been great,” he added. “If you’d have said I would bowl 200 overs or something like that by now, I’d have probably laughed.

“To have the backing of Dane (Vilas) has been great and to bowl well enough to be able to stay on for that amount of time has also been great. It’s a good sign for me.

“Hopefully I’m showing I can hold an end up in April and May.”

How’s Stat!

Keaton Jennings could achieve a new Lancashire batting record of four hundreds in as many innings if he scores one in his next innings this week.

In his last three innings, dating back to last July, the opener has scored 132 versus Yorkshire at Headingley, 110 versus Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford and 238 versus Yorkshire at Headingley last week.

Only Ernest Tyldesley has achieved this feat before, but his second century was for Players v Gentlemen at Lord’s. In 1926, he scored 131, 131, 106 and 126.

 
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