Essex bounce back but Bopara fails again
Essex 212 for 6 (Westley 71, Quiney 50) beat Durham 209 for 5 (Stokes 51) by four wickets
Essex recovered from their mauling at home to Yorkshire Bank 40 holders Hampshire on Friday with a four-wicket victory over Durham at Chester-le-Street. Chasing Durham's 209 for 5, Essex turned a stroll into a scramble before getting home with an over to spare.
Openers Tom Westley and Rob Quiney had 103 on the board before Quiney fell for 51 in the 17th over. Man of the match Westley made a flawless 71 off 73 balls, but Essex stuttered to 199 for 6 in the 38th over.
They would have lost Greg Smith with eight needed had Callum Thorp not misjudged a top-edged sweep in the sun. That was off the first ball of the 39th over and Smith drove a lofted four to secure victory.
On a slow pitch Durham laboured after being asked to bat, with David Masters bowling straight through his eight overs to take 1 for 18. His scalp was that of Paul Collingwood, who drove to mid-on.
Durham recovered from 39 for 3 in the 11th over through Ben Stokes making a 62-ball half-century before the third umpire decided he had been run out. It was the result of a throw from Sajid Mahmood, coming in from long-on, which was deadly accurate, unlike his bowling. He sent down five wides but had the consolation of bowling home skipper Dale Benkenstein with a slower ball.
The loss of Stokes for 51 with 10 overs left was a big blow for Durham but Gordon Muchall, with 49 not out, and Gareth Breese, an unbeaten 41, took 40 off the last five overs in an unbroken stand of 69.
Essex looked like coasting to victory as Quiney quickly warmed to his task with an effortless straight drive off Chris Rushworth. Westley matched him stroke for stroke before Quiney was caught at deep midwicket off Scott Borthwick.
That brought in Ravi Bopara with something to prove following his selection in England's Champions Trophy squad. But he made only 10 before pushing forward and falling lbw to the first ball of a second spell from Mark Wood, whose pace possibly surprised Bopara.
Thorp then had Westley lbw when aiming for midwicket and after putting on 42 Mark Pettini and James Foster both drove off-side catches to Wood and Chris Rushworth respectively. The in-form Graham Napier looked like winning it, only to pull a catch to square leg, leaving Tim Phillips to complete the task with Smith.