The last time these two clubs met in the County Championship at Chelmsford, they produced a truly remarkable game lasting 96.3 overs that just crept into day 2 and ended up with Essex winning by an innings and 44 runs despite scoring 170 in their only innings. This time around Essex come into the game on the back of a 10-wicket defeat at the hands of rivals Warwickshire, and Northants will be feeling confident after batting out more than a day for the draw against Yorkshire in reasonable comfort.
Essex have concerns in the batting department to address, as since the opening round draw against Kent, the top 6 batters have struggled to post competitive scores to keep their talented bowling group in the game. England batter Dan Lawrence also looks to be struggling following the hamstring injury he picked up in the field on day 1 at Edgbaston. This may create an opportunity for the likes of Feroze Khushi and Josh Rymell, both of whom have been scoring runs in the 2’s to come into the team. This also sees ex-Northants captain Adam Rossington come up against his former club for the first time following his surprise loan move, so will be keen to make a point against his former club.
Northants will be happy with their start to life in Division 1 as they remain unbeaten. Although they lack in star quality, they have plenty of hardworking and underrated players in their ranks like Rob Keogh, and Luke Procter. New Zealand opener Will Young looked evergreen on his debut for the club with 96 in the second innings, and the club are hoping he won’t leave right now, while Aussie seamer Matthew Kelly showed glimpses of what he can bring to the side with both bat and ball.
Essex look stronger on paper especially in the bowling department, so look favourites to come out on top, but this should be a much more evenly contested encounter.
Adam Rossington will be keen to make a point against his former employers after his controversial demotion from the Northants captaincy which lead to his surprise move to Essex. He is a dangerous player who has made some important runs in the win at Somerset but has yet to make a big score.
Sam Cook took 10-41 against Northants last season, and is a skilful, consistent, and underrated performer who deserves to be talked about more in international selection discussions. He has 10 wickets at 18.90 so far this season and should be a real threat.
Will Young provided some real quality and solidity to the Northants top order, and they be looking to him to make the Essex attack toil a little while longer than the last time they visited Chelmsford. His steadying influence was evident as batted for 94 overs in the 2nd innings.
Like a young Darren Stevens, 41 year old all-rounder Gareth Berg has made telling contributions with bat and ball this year, and remains dangerous after bagging a 5-for in the first innings against Yorkshire. He provides balance, experience, and no little skill to the side, and personifies the hard working approach of Northants.
Essex squad: tbc
Northamptonshire squad: tbc
Weather and Conditions
The weather looks like typical early season conditions at Chelmsford, and temperatures look like they will be ranging between 12-15c and overcast, so the players and spectators will need to layer up. As a result, the contest between bat and ball may favour the bowlers, but if the pitch is anything like that used against Kent, then there could be runs for the batters.
Date: 28th April – 1st May 2022
Ground: County Ground, Chelmsford
Odds (Sky Bet): Essex 1/3; Northamptonshire 9/4