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Ryan Bailey at Chelmsford
June 4, 2014
Essex 280 (Foster 86, Hogan 3-59) and 28 for 2 drew with Glamorgan 244 (Bragg 93, Topley 6-41) and 250 (Allenby 79, Topley 4-67)
Amidst the murk and mizzle that descended for much of the day, few could have blamed the Chelmsford venerables for sliding into a state of stupor. Those that had persevered until mid-afternoon were scarcely awoken by the handful of overs that were possible as an otherwise compulsive match trickled towards a tediously flat denouement.
It all ended in rather preposterous circumstances - hands were shaken the moment the clock struck five bells - but on a day that would dampen even the most hardened of spirits, a glimpse of previously unavailable luminaries will have no doubt provided a beacon of light for Essex fans.
The sight of Tymal Mills, built almost like a wing-forward, turning his arm over on the outfield or Graham Napier, equipped with strapping on his groin, bustling into his delivery stride was a welcome one for Paul Grayson. His side have been beset by injuries over the past month, particularly to their bowling ranks, and one win in seven Championship outings reflects that.
But, it's been the form of the batsmen that has been the shortfall. Only James Foster and Tom Westley have scored over 300 runs this term and their defects were, once again, exposed by Glamorgan; the weather provided them with a get-out-of-jail card. So, the return of Ryan ten Doeschate - looking rather weary after his exploits in the IPL - and Ravi Bopara is more encouraging.
"We've been pretty average," Grayson admitted openly. "We've got ten points from this game but we have to move on now and try and start winning some matches because we can't afford to lose any more ground on the teams above us. Worcestershire and Hampshire are playing some really good cricket."
"Most of our top six have had ample opportunity and they've had a fair crack at the whip but very few have scored enough runs to merit a place in the side. Both Ravi and Ryan are available from Friday onwards and a couple will have to drop-out but they know that because the performances haven't been up to standard.
"We'll make changes to the batting personnel but we have to move on. We've got an important couple of games coming up and we need to start stringing a run of form together. The lads will provide us with a welcome boost and that's what we need."
Both Mills and Napier, alongside Bopara and ten Doeschate, will return to the squad for the short journey for Friday's NatWest T20 Blast fixture against Surrey while David Masters is also on the verge of a return.
Masters has been sidelined for a month with a quad injury and his absence has been felt more than most in the Championship. His deputies have provided consummate backup but were evidently "tired" on day four here as they toiled in taking the final Glamorgan wickets.
Jim Allenby - who relishes this opposition; he's scored two fifties and a century in his last three outings against Essex in all formats - produced a cameo akin to Foster's first innings effort as he batted with the tail to take the sting out of any potential excitement. When he eventually fell for 79, carving Jesse Ryder to backward point, the Glamorgan lead had extended over the 200 mark and that was just about that.
Perhaps Grayson had a view of protecting his run-stricken openers when Ryder and Mark Pettini were boldly sent out in pursuit of the implausible target in just 26 overs, although both were back in the pavilion before hands were shaken.
"It would have been a good day's play today but we can take a lot of positives from this game regardless," Grayson added. "The way Fozzie and Pettini batted and Reece Topley's form on return has been a real bonus." But, as he's all too aware, such positives don't convert into points on the table.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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