James Anderson, Jamie Porter and Sam Cook plus a whole bunch of lethal overseas dobblers… Essex v Lancashire doesn’t promise to be a runfest

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At one point during last year’s visit to Chelmsford to play Essex, Lancashire were 7-6. All in all, across both innings, they managed just 204 runs. They won the match. James Anderson’s back for this year’s trip...

Cricket being cricket, we fully expect this week’s Essex v Lancashire clash to be (a) a bore draw with one team making 700-5 and the other countering with 660-6, or (b) largely rained off.

But that’s not what recent history or the respective teams suggest. Recent history and the respective teams reckon that Extras will probably be top scorer.

Yes, Sralastair Cook will be playing, and yes Dan Lawrence and Josh Bohannon are fine young batters. But at the same time, Cook’s 40 was by far the highest score the last time these two teams met and he top scored with 14 in Essex’s second innings.

“Days like this are really annoying,” said Lancashire coach Glen Chapple after his team had surrendered 16 wickets on the first day. Just to reiterate, Essex were bowled out even more cheaply in that match.

And if anything the bowling attacks will be stronger this time around.

La creme de la fast-medium

Jamie Porter took nine wickets last week and no-one said an incredible amount about it because of course Jamie Porter took nine wickets. That’s just what he does. Jamie Porter bowls relentlessly lethal fast-medium.

And so does Sam Cook with whom he opens the bowling. 25-year-old Little Chef has now taken 221 first-class wickets at an average of 19.99.

Relentlessly lethal fast-medium. Have we mentioned that Jimmy Anderson’s back for Lancashire for this match? Tom Bailey (313 first-class wickets at 23.63) is okay too.

Overseas dobblers

If it weren’t for the fact that he’s actually, genuinely called William Williams (“thanks a stack Mum and Dad”), it would be very easy to never notice Lancashire’s other seamer. Will Williams is one of those 30-something non-international seamers who provide the starchy carbohydrates for the County Championship plate. Originally from New Zealand, where he made his professional debut, Williams now plays for Lancashire as a local player. He has taken 155 first-class wickets at 21.55 and the closing line of his Wikipedia page is a beauty.

He’s joined in the Lancashire team by another New Zealand dobbler (albeit Zimbabwe-born), good old Colin of Big Man.

Essex have someone who has dobbled for New Zealand too: Doug Bracewell. If you get confused with your New Zealand Bracewells, this is the one who’s the son of Brendon; nephew of John, Mark and another Doug; and cousin of Michael.

Essex will presumably field another Zimbabwe-born international dobbler, Shane Snater of the Netherlands (who is also Jason Roy’s cousin). Snater took 2-18 and 6-10 in this fixture last year.

Bit of spin

You want more bowling? Essex’s Simon Harmer has now taken a million County Championship wickets at an average of nothing. Lancashire’s Matt Parkinson is the bowler of the slowest delivery in the entire CricViz database and also a marvellous leg-spinner.

As we said near the start, Essex v Lancashire doesn’t promise to be a runfest but almost certainly will be because cricket is a quite wilfully absurd sport.

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  1. So many questions ahead of this game
    Will Will Williams’ will win out?
    Was his birth certificate partially populated using the Ctrl+C / Ctrl+V shortcuts?
    Do Essex have too many Cooks?

  2. Jamie Porter taking 9 wickets actually is news as his performances 2020-2022 were down on his 2017-2019 peak partly through injury.

    He was dropped for championship games last year.

    1. It seems to be from his perspective, because last year was injury-blighted – but it just seems like a return to business as usual from this vantage point. He averaged 20 in 2020 and 24 in 2021 so last year just seemed like an injury-induced blip to us. Guess it doesn’t feel that way if you’re the person who has a bad year though.

  3. Sadly Parkinson won’t be playing this game. Not sure why, but he’s not on the squad list for the trip.

    1. Can only presume it’s at least partly due to last year’s two-day dobble-off. Shame.

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