Willey stars as Essex are dismantled
David Willey led the way as Northamptonshire’s County Championship campaign clicked smoothly into gear with an innings and nine-run thumping of Essex.
Fresh from a momentum changing 76 in the hosts’ innings, the Old Northamptonian took 5-67 as Essex’s eight remaining wickets were steadily ticked off with victory arriving before tea.
There was an element of resignation in the visiting effort with a number of their line-up guilty of playing shots that shouldn’t really have seen the light of day.
Tom Westley and Ben Foakes had already gone in soft fashion on the previous evening and they were followed by Rob Quiney and Mark Pettini as what resistance that was in evidence didn’t give, at any stage, the impression that it was down for the long haul.
The home side didn’t bowl magnificently by any means, but they were efficient, gave little away, and continued to build on the foundations that were laid in Cardiff last week.
Having a substantial lead certainly helped as so often it plays on the mind of those attempting to eat into it and that is the whole point of four-day cricket. Bowl sides out, try to bat just the once and then bowl them out again.
There was no sign of what was to come during the opening exchanges as Quiney and nightwatchman Maurice Chambers meandered along steadily, however, that changed once Quiney wafted at Willey and edged behind.
Chambers, who had resisted for 75 minutes in relative comfort, then had his off stump removed by Steven Crook and Pettini wasn’t far behind as he indecisively cut at Willey and was expertly taken by David Sales at second slip.
Five down at lunch, James Foster avoided a pair only to find Andrew Hall at first slip, Greg Smith was well-taken by the following through Willey and he picked up his fifth when a change of angle to around the wicket enticed Ravi Bopara to edge behind.
That left Graham Napier as the lone chance the visitors had of clinging to any sort of respectability but he was unable to repeat, understandably really, his rescue act of day one as he skied to extra cover.
Tymel Mills and Reece Topley provided some inconvenience as they held up the inevitable but the former then contrived to miss a wild swing as Crook wrapped up what was an emphatic triumph.