Quite what Jesse Ryder’s wrists are made of is an unknown, but Adamantium is as good a guess as any for Essex’s superhero. On a day where 46 overs were lost due to dismal conditions, the New Zealander wowed with the ball, swinging it with precision control to take career-best figures of 6-47 and strengthen the county’s position in the game.
It leaves Glamorgan facing the real possibility of losing their first Championship game of the season – one of only two clubs currently unbeaten, Yorkshire the other – and stunt their hopes of promotion from Division Two.
Casually lolloping up to the crease before a sudden burst of speed, like a man trying to reach a pedestrian crossing before the light changes, Ryder’s ability to move the ball both ways, as well as benefit from movement off the seam, is extraordinary to witness. No wonder so many batsmen have fallen foul to it – 73 first-class victims, in fact, since Ryder arriving last year.
Brought over as a batsman to shore up Essex’s underperforming top order, it’s his bowling that they’ve profited from the most; here he claimed his sixth five-wicket haul for the club having not achieved the feat before joining them.
The swiftness with which Glamorgan collapsed – losing seven wickets in 25 overs having starting the day on 40-3 – became all the more surprising when Essex openers Nick Browne and on-loan Liam Dawson raced to 78. The pair never looked in danger after Dawson offered a possible catching opportunity off the fifth ball of the innings.
Mixing glorious drives with smart cuts to the boundary, they milked the bowling attack with ease, as they set about extending the lead to 195 runs. It may not be enough to beat the weather, though, which is set to continue to frustrate for the next two days.
Play was delayed until 12:15pm following some early morning drizzle, and then lasted only 14 balls, although long enough for Ryder to dismiss Jacques Rudolph. Chris Cooke departed soon after the teams appeared again two hours later, top-edging a Ryder long hop to give the New Zealander his fifth wicket. David Masters then removed Mark Wallace and Graham Wagg either side of Ryder controversially trapping Craig Meschede lbw.
A couple of edges came and went but the hosts were not made to pay for their errors in the field, Colin Ingram offering some resistance in a punchy 43-run showing prior to Masters uprooting his leg stump. David Lloyd’s blunderbuss assault helped reduce the first innings deficit further before Graham Napier disrupted partner Michael Hogan’s bails.