Essex v Nottinghamshire, Royal London Cup semi-final, Chelmsford June 16, 2017

One of the great games as Patel, Mullaney nail record chase


Nottinghamshire 373 for 5 (Patel 122*, Mullaney 111, Porter 3-56) beat Essex 370 for 5 (Cook 133, ten Doeschate 102*) by five wickets

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WATCH - Cook makes sublime 133

This was an enthralling game, deserving the accolade as one of the finest one-day matches in the history of English domestic cricket. It fell to Nottinghamshire who pulled off a record county cricket run chase by overhauling a target of 371 with three balls to spare and who reached the final of the Royal London Cup in the process.

But how Essex played their part. It felt like Alastair Cook's match when they rattled up 370 for 5, Cook's limited-overs pedigree never more apparent in making 133 from 128 balls. It felt even more Essex's game when Ryan ten Doeschate, their captain, smashed an unbeaten 102 from 66 balls.

Instead, hundreds in reply from Samit Patel, who would have needed life support on standby if he had batted on much longer, and Steven Mullaney, matching what ten Doeschate had produced before in a classy retort which insisted he must be termed "unsung" no longer, squeezed Nottinghamshire into the final at Lord's where they will face the winners of Saturday's semi-final between Worcestershire and Surrey.

Their chase surpassed Hampshire's 359 for 8 against Surrey at the Kia Oval in 2005 when Australian Shane Watson opened his shoulders.

County cricket struggles to gain attention these days. But this was exceptional, a feast of entertainment, a reminder of the quality potentially on offer on England's professional circuit when the best players are released from an overblown international circuit which has long become too repetitive for its own good. It challenged those English cricket lovers whose eyes never stray below the international game and then it challenged them again.

A record 185-run fifth-wicket partnership in 24 overs between Patel and Mullaney helped carry Nottinghamshire home on a day when 743 runs were scored for the loss of only 10 wickets. They had begun in gung-ho fashion, 80 for 3 in 9.2 overs, all of the wickets to Jamie Porter, with Essex arguably one more wicket away from killing the game.

Essex's hopes flared again when Patel, who majors in hangdog shoulders even when creaming the ball to all parts, was involved in the run out of Brendan Taylor for 62. He did little wrong, striking the ball square on the off side, screaming "no" more than once but finding Taylor alongside him: the same Taylor whose 154 at Taunton had carried Notts to 429 a few days earlier, among the highest domestic scores in history. Not a man to stay in your crease for, even if you were as blameless and talented as Samit Patel.

It was a burden he shouldered admirably, finishing triumphant with 122 from 123 balls, helped by a marginal third umpire's decision on 81 when Ravi Bopara fell agonisingly short of claiming a diving catch from ten Doeschate's first ball.

Mullaney's breaking of the offspinner, Simon Harmer, early in his innings was a crucual moment. He grabbed the chase by the scruff, a fifth six, over long-on off Bopara, bringing up his first List A century before he fell, for 111 from 75 balls, attempting to uppercut Neil Wagner and caught behind. Wagner had been untidy in his new-ball spell, but not to complete his allocation felt unwise.

That left six from nine balls, with Patel told by Mullaney to get the job done. Two desperate edges in the final over from Paul Walter sufficed, the first causing ten Doeschate to yank his hat over his head in disbelief, the second settling it. "You need a little bit of luck and I rode it a bit," said Patel, glowing with magnificent near-exhaustion.

All of which meant the story changed, because before then it was all about the irony. England crash out of the Champions Trophy and almost immediately the most high-profile batsman they rejected on the way to inventing their brave new world plays one of the limited-overs innings of his life.

Samit Patel celebrates the winning runs © Getty Images

Cook, still a stalwart in the Test format, last played an ODI for England before the last World Cup where their approach was deemed so outdated that it tipped them into a new positive approach under Eoin Morgan which won such acclaim that they were regarded as a strong chance to win their first global 50-over trophy… until it all went wrong against Pakistan in Cardiff.

Cook will have shared England's disappointment. He does not do grudges. But he is capable of meaningful displays of his own prowess. It is what makes him such a fierce campaigner. As he came within four runs below his highest one-day score, he was at his most fluent, a high-class Nottinghamshire pace attack repelled. Ten Doeschate, the Essex captain, then came in at No 5 and struck around him with upright power.

Cook played at a canter. Square cuts and nudges off his hips came with absolute certainty. A late dab off Mullaney to reach 50 displayed finesse. Stuart Broad, an England team-mate, taunted him with no mid-off - he rarely drives down the ground - and Cook, 77 by then, took a boundary with a smile. He repeated the shot against Broad for his hundred, mid-off now in place but to no avail. He fell to a slog sweep against Patel, eight overs from time, the ball not quite up for the shot.

It took ten Doeschate to bring a capacity crowd at Chelmsford to its feet, taking three sixes off Harry Gurney in the penultimate over. Seventy-two came off the last five overs. It felt like a matchwinning phase. It turned out to be nothing of the sort.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • magicfarang on June 19, 2017, 12:40 GMT

    Great innings by both Cook and Patel. Their scoring rates were both decent and set up teams for large totals. Losing early wickets will never be a good thing! Both players have fast scorers around them and in this game provided the stability and fast enough rates to set the game up. In respect to Patel's fitness. I am not surprised he seemed a little tired since he was coming off an innings of 250ish not out in a county game! He probably looked a little tired in that innings too! Congratulations to the outlaws!!

  • nursery_ender on June 18, 2017, 14:53 GMT

    Excellent innings by Patel but his obvious exhaustion in the final half-dozen overs or so showed precisely why England have always had doubts about his fitness.

  • Murali_the_greatest on June 17, 2017, 21:43 GMT

    @ALFERS, I didn't comment on Patel's innings. Anyway he was chasing rather than setting a target and paced his innings accordingly (helped by Mullaney going great guns at the other end), if not for the innings of his partner, he would have had to raise the tempo of his own innings to get his team over the line. Ultimately someone needed to hit a 60/70 ball 100 to get Notts over the line and that was Mullaney.

    In terms of Cook, if a player scores a hundred and his team loses, his impact on the outcome of the game is zero by definition. Doesn't mean it wasn't a good innings in its own right or unworthy of praise but obviously not good enough to deliver a result for the team. He had an excellent ODI average but the perception from the selectors was that he was not getting his runs at a fast enough rate, so whether he scored a 100 or not didn't really raise England's prospects of winning. Cook was dropped from the England ODI outfit and their results haven't suffered, quite the opposite.

  • Alfers on June 17, 2017, 16:23 GMT

    @MURALI_THE_GREATEST - Patel made a big hundred which wasn't off 70 balls either, yet he apparently is a 'good one day player' whilst Cook, who scored at a faster rate, is not. Cook has made a mountain of runs in this competition and Essex have won 7 games and lost just two, both by small margins. Your definition of 'impact' is odd, to say the least.

  • Murali_the_greatest on June 17, 2017, 14:21 GMT

    Andrew Strauss demonstrated great vision through the realisation that players like Cook and well, himself were not the answer to winning games of ODI cricket. Though they may garner decent ODI records by compiling big scores in risk free fashion on a regular basis with a middling strike rate, they would simply not be matchwinners especially in the modern age with current ODI regulations.

  • Murali_the_greatest on June 17, 2017, 13:56 GMT

    @Broken record, it is actually proof why Cook is not a good one day player, he made a big hundred, probably played the best that he could and still his team lost - he is simply not an impact player. Impactful players score runs which influence the outcome of the game.. he would never score a 70-ball hundred, the type which is often required on really flat pitches to actually win the game against competitive opposition.

  • InsideHedge on June 17, 2017, 13:31 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer : Fair points but don't forget the Sussex v Warwick 1993 NatWest Final, no way is this game way below yesterday's fine game. It was a final for starters and that context alone gives performances extra weight. Both teams scored over 300 in an age when such scores were a rarity. It was close, exciting and led to Warwickshire gaining such confidence that they wiped the floor with all opposition the following season by enjoying the most successful domestic season in county cricket history.

  •   David Hopps on June 17, 2017, 11:58 GMT

    @jackiethepen A record run chase does not automatically make it a great game. I just thought it was a great game.

  • Praveen29 on June 17, 2017, 11:03 GMT

    Samit patel is having a dream season...congrats to Notts!!!

  • jackiethepen on June 17, 2017, 10:33 GMT

    I'm not quite sure why the number of runs make it the 'greatest game'. It is the closeness of the chase that makes a great game - and that works if bowlers are on top. There is no reason why cricket is a great game because the pitch is flat which allows lots of runs to compete. In the end the battle that ensues decides the great game. It is a bit batsmen friendly in my opinion to think that more runs equals greater. Getting down to the final wickets is also incredibly nail biting. And to see a good batsman defy good bowling is also exciting. In the final over you felt the fate of the game was in the balance. For Notts the tension was that they had come so near, and yet so far, from those crucial few runs to win. For Essex you felt the crown of a Final at Lords was in their hands but they could easily let it drop. In the end luck and chance rolled the dice because the two boundaries came off two nicks which no one could stop. But the toiling bat of Patel gave him that break.

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