Both Essex and Yorkshire will be hoping to improve on their draws in the last round of the LV= Insurance County Championship Division One when they face off at Chelmsford. Although their games reached the same conclusion, Essex and Yorkshire experienced differing fortunes in their matches. Essex, helped by a career-best of 93 from Paul Walter, were able to bat through the final day and a half to rescue a draw after being forced to follow-on by Northamptonshire. Yorkshire, on the other hand, were able to post their biggest score of the season, 571 all out, as well as taking all 20 of Kent’s wickets, before a lack of time meant their fourth innings chase was unable to get started.
The two teams meet at Chelmsford following a rather quiet start to the season by their standards. Essex have only picked up one win in four, with a dominant ten-wicket victory for Warwickshire halting any potential momentum built from their spectacular one wicket win away at Taunton. Their record of two draws is matched by Yorkshire, who have enjoyed the stronger start to the campaign out of the two. They are unbeaten after three matches, but haven’t won since their away win against Gloucestershire in their opening fixture of the 2022 season. However, they sit one place above their opponents in fourth, having played one less game.
A win for either side here, against one of the stronger teams in the division, will go a long way to demonstrate their title credentials. However, a loss for Essex here would present the team with an uphill battle in their bid to reclaim the County Championship, last won in 2019. It is fair to say improvement in the batting department is much-needed; their three batting bonus points is a division low. For Yorkshire, a win away at arguably the most dominant red-ball county side in the last five years would certainly lay down their intentions for the season.
What a start to the season it is proving to be for Yorkshire batter Harry Brook. A fruitful beginning to the 2022 campaign is seeing the 23 year old deliver on the promise which saw him named captain for the England under 19s. He has passed 50 in each of his five innings so far, including two centuries, and fell agonisingly close to a maiden first-class double century with a career best of 194 in his last outing against Kent. His 512 runs have come at an impressive strike-rate of over 78, with his name firmly in the conversation for a potential Test call-up against New Zealand.
Given his extremely impressive consistency over the last couple of seasons, it is hard to look past Sam Cook whenever discussing key players for the 2020 Bob Willis Trophy champions. His 12 wickets from four matches is a modest return when compared to his high standards, but his consistency is still evident; out of those who have bowled over 100 overs, his economy rate of 1.87 is the best. Cook will be hoping that his tight bowling over long spells will begin to translate to a greater number of wickets; it is seemingly only a matter of time.
The big news for Yorkshire is the return of Joe Root to the squad, with the batter set to make his first first-class appearance since his resignation as England Men’s Test captain. There is also a return to the squad for Ben Coad, who has recovered from a groin injury, Haris Rauf will travel, but is unlikely to play due to a side injury, with Dom Leechand Matthew Fisher still unavailable.
Only one change in the Essex squad, as Adam Rossington returns to the squad following his injury. He replaced wicketkeeper-batter Adam Wheater, who this week announced his retirement from professional cricket at the end of the 2022 season. Wheater made his first-class debut for Essex in 2008, playing 380 matches in all formats, which includes over 10,000 runs being scored.
Weather and Conditions
A full four days’ worth of play looks possible in Chelmsford given the lack of expected rain. Those heading to The Cloud County Ground might even need to leave their jumpers at home, with temperatures expected to reach highs of 20 degrees on the first two days of play.
Date: Thursday 5th May to Sunday 8th May
Ground: The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford
Odds (SkyBet): Essex 1/1; Yorkshire 8/11