Mills spell leaves Glamorgan reeling
Essex 259 and 5 for 0 lead Glamorgan 187 (Walters 69, Mills 4-25) by 77 runs
Glamorgan have suffered several batting collapses already this season and again their innings crumbled to leave them without a batting bonus point in four attempts. Losing six wickets for 29 after tea was the latest embarrassment. It left them 72 runs behind and in danger of losing a fourth match of five, having not been able to get on the field last week at Bristol.
The collapse was brought about by Tymal Mills, a 19-year-old playing his first season as a professional who can operate around the 90mph mark. He terrorised the lower order and took career-best figures of 4 for 25. The wickets came in a 31-ball spell after tea where he claimed 4 for 4 - quite a turnaround, having sent down three over before lunch that were so wayward he did not bowl all afternoon.
"The first spell I tried to bowl what wasn't in my game plan," Mills said. "I wasn't running in as well. I tried to bowl a fuller length, which was the right thing to do for a lot of the bowlers but not for me. After tea I just tried to bowl as quick as I can and ended up getting my rewards."
There will be plenty more rewards if Mills continues to bowl as quickly as he can, particularly against batting so short of confidence as Glamorgan's. He gained an unexpected place on an England Lions' tour in the winter. There is much competition between talented bowlers in England but, as Steven Finn has demonstrated, pace can get you quickly up the pecking order.
His second spell was hostile stuff from around the wicket, too quick for the lower order. He hit Moises Henriques on the helmet ducking into a bouncer, the ball rebounding on to his stumps: a second bout of pain for Henriques who picked up a side strain that will prevent him from bowling in the second innings. Thankfully for Glamorgan, Australia international Marcus North arrives tomorrow to take up the overseas role from his compatriot Henriques. He has a major job to shore up this batting line up; they have consistently frittered wickets away.
But one could empathise with Henriques. It was not the light to be facing seriously quick bowling - light which caused four delays throughout the match and looked to be sending this game even further down the path to a draw. But Mills has given Essex a handy lead that they could use to put a fragile Glamorgan side under pressure tomorrow afternoon.
After clattering Henriques, Mills forced Dean Cosker to fend to second slip. When the players returned at 6.15pm he completed his haul, having Will Owen caught behind.
Mills' spell began with a big error from Stuart Walters. Having hooked Mills to the midwicket fence he tried again and found Mark Pettini at deep square leg to depart for 69. Earlier, Walters had added 54 in partnership with Gareth Rees before Rees shouldered arms to Greg Smith and was bowled. Suddenly 115 for 2 became 187 all out.
Mills also took a catch, running back from mid-on to hold Nick James' mistimed pull as no-one bar Walters went on with their innings and Glamorgan were left chasing another match.
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo