Ripley relieved as Northants earn draw at Essex

The LV= County Championship Division Two clash between Essex and Northants at the Essex County Ground ended in a draw after bad light brought an end to play with the visitors 92 for four in pursuit of 302.
Northants head coach David RipleyNorthants head coach David Ripley
Northants head coach David Ripley

After an aggressive declaration from Essex earlier in the day, they were looking to force victory as Jamie Porter breached the defences of David Murphy early on.

Porter then took his haul of Championship wickets to 46 for the current campaign when bringing a ball back into Alex Wakely, who was bowled for 17 to leave his side 48 for two and Essex with hopes of victory.

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Their hopes were dented by bad light and a vigilant innings by opener Ben Duckett, who stood firm to reach the close with an unbeaten 34.

With the light still deteriorating and two slow bowlers operating, Rob Keogh reached 17 before a direct throw by substitute fielder Aaron Beard from cover left him short of his ground.

Three runs later, Aron Nijjar bowled Josh Cobb without scoring to give the Eagles 25 overs to take the remaining six wickets.

However, just three more overs were possible before umpires Martin Bodenham and Martin Saggers again called a halt to proceedings.

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This time the suspension of play cut into the final hour and both captains subsequently agreed on the draw.

Earlier, Essex added 161 runs to their overnight total of 55 for one, with the last 65 coming off nine overs after lunch as Ryan ten Doeschate and Mark Pettini raised the tempo to set up the declaration.

The pair poster an unbroken 77 runs for the sixth wicket contributing 43 and 37 respectively with an array of cleanly struck drives on both sides of the wicket before the declaration came.

Teenager Dan Lawrence hit 36 and Ravi Bopara 25 whilst Tom Westley and Jesse Ryder also made starts before falling to former Essex pace bowler Maurice Chambers, who produced a beauty of a delivery to bowl Westley.

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However, the draw was always the most likely result, with a total of 106 overs lost to the elements during the match.

Northants head coach David Ripley said: “We asked the boys for a big effort after the Twenty20 finals day and I think we got a good shift from them and they competed well.

“The key moment was the partnership between (James) Foster and (Mark) Pettini that put on 146 runs after we had reduced them to 119 for six. Having won the toss, to only get two bowling points was disappointing.

“But I thought we created opportunities in the way we bowled and on a number of occasions, the ball went just past the edge of the bat. That allowed Essex to get ahead in the game and we had to play catch-up.

“But thankfully, we got our draw come the end of the game.”