It was seemingly business as usual for Simon Harmer and Essex on Day 2 at Edgbaston, as an excellent collective effort by the visitors put them in control of the game. The 9th wicket partnership of Danny Briggs and Craig Miles, however, saw out the remaining 27.5 overs of the day and reduced the first innings deficit to 52 runs.
Still, Simon Harmer’s exploits should not be ignored. On a batting-friendly pitch where Essex’s first innings total of 295 may have been considered below par, he was able to get the ball to turn. He held down the Pavilion End from the 24th over onwards, picking up the wickets of Sam Hain, Michael Burgess and Tim Bresnan in a 37 over spell.
Warwickshire started the day 7/0, looking to take advantage of the conditions to post a big first innings total. However, brilliant opening spells by Jamie Porter and Sam Cook meant runs were hard to come by, with Porter only conceding six runs in his first six overs.
A cautionary approach was taken by opening batsmen Rob Yates, to little success, with his wicket the first to fall.
Former Australian international Peter Siddle was brought into the attack and, despite being expensive in his first over, his second over brought about the key wicket of Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes for 26.
With Hain and Hanuma Vihari at the crease, Warwickshire recovered to an evenly poised 75/2 at lunch, with a back foot cover drive from Sam Hain the pick of the shots in a partnership worth 41.
The second session, though, belonged to Essex. It got off to an excellent start with Porter getting a deserved wicket in the second over after lunch, with a delivery that jagged away and found Vihari’s edge on the way into Adam Wheater’s gloves.
Matthew Lamb came to the crease on the back of two half-centuries in two games and provided, alongside Hain, some much-needed runs. A beautiful pull shot from Lamb that beat the fielder at deep square leg was a highlight of the partnership, which was going well until Harmer got into his work.
Hain attempted to charge down the ground to a beautifully floated delivery, which ended up beating the bat and taking his off-stump. His 36 from 84 was another instance of a Warwickshire batsman getting set and heading back to the pavilion soon after.
Harmer struck again soon after, with Burgess being tempted out of his crease, but a mistimed swing led to an easy stumping for Wheater.
Bresnan came to the crease and looked to attack, with some beautifully dispatched short balls demonstrating his intent. Harmer once again got the better of the batter, however, with an off-side delivery that turned and clipped the off stump.
Essex were in control at tea, Warwickshire trailing by 125 with only four wickets in hand.
The start of the third session belonged to Siddle. Olly Stone looked to get out of the blocks quickly, elegantly driving the first ball after tea through the covers for four. His stay was short-lived, with the Australian international trapping him LBW for 16. And Siddle struck again with a beauty of a leg-cutter, knocking over both Lamb and his off stump, the Warwickshire man unfortunate not to make his third half-century of the season.
With Warwickshire 8 down for their 102 runs, Essex looked to have the chance to wrap the innings up and build on their healthy first innings lead this evening. However, Miles and Briggs came together in the middle, and formed an important partnership of 50 runs, seeing out the day with their valiant defensive effort.
With their lead, Essex still hold a slight advantage, but Briggs and Miles have certainly made the scorecard easier to read from a Warwickshire perspective, and give the Bears a much greater chance of a first home victory of the season.