Essex 275 for 6 (ten Doeschate 109*, Wheater 59) trail Glamorgan 286 (Carlson 119, Morgan 55, Napier 4-46) by 11 runs
Look out Division One, the Essex boys are coming. Ryan ten Doeschate afterwards played down the effect his captaincy has had on Essex winning promotion but he led from the front to haul his side over the line in their penultimate match of the season, the Division Two title finally secured to raucous approval on a sweltering afternoon in Chelmsford. Ten Doeschate struck the single that took Essex to 250 and a second batting point - enough to move them clear of all challengers - and his fourth hundred of a most fulfilling first season in charge duly followed.
The Championship has been a matter of delayed gratification for Essex fans, having seen their side finish third in each of the last three years, and they had to endure one or two trying moments against second-from-bottom Glamorgan before the job was completed. With only one promotion spot going this season, there was no margin for error but they will now return to Division One for the first time since 2010. A trip to Canterbury next week will serve only as a coronation.
"We made it hard for ourselves today and it would have been a lot nicer to fly past the winning post but as much as we tried to avoid it, this game was really about getting those bonus points and making sure we didn't have to go to Kent with any work to do," ten Doeschate said. "Everyone's delighted, it's a bit weird winning it on day two…but I think it's more a sense of relief up there and a great achievement to achieve what we set out to do at the start of the year."
Promotion was the stated goal and, in Chris Silverwood's first campaign as head coach, Essex produced their most dominant Championship cricket in more than a decade. They have led practically from start to finish (Kent spent a week on top in July having played a game more), their six victories so far all by the imposing margins of either an innings or ten wickets.
Three of those came as the season approached its climax as Essex, in ten Doeschate's words, carefully "eliminated" their rivals one by one. After Kent were unexpectedly beaten by Northamptonshire last week, they came into this match knowing that bonus points could be enough; five were needed to extinguish Kent's chances, six in the event that Sussex took maximum points from their game with Worcestershire. Essex were wobbling at 85 for 5 shortly after Sussex were dismissed for 229 in their first innings at Hove but ten Doeschate put on a century standard with Adam Wheater to settle the nerves.
It was fitting that ten Doeschate was the man who made sure of things. Since July, his run of scores reads: 91, 52, 25, 83, 109, 60, 86, 109* and 109*; in the process he became the first Essex captain to pass 1000 runs for the season since Ronnie Irani in 2006. Irani, whose return as cricket committee chairman last year led to the winter shake-up in management, would doubtless approve of such talismanic displays.
Ten Doeschate was also the man who scored the dramatic last-day hundred to fire Essex up the last time they were promoted, in 2009, but he has experienced enough near-misses over recent years to make this a moment to savour - even if he was keen to downplay his own role.
"I think the really rewarding thing about this year was the fact there was only one promotion spot available and we really made a pact that we were going to go for it," he said. "To achieve it - and it's only Division Two and we're only the tenth best team in the country at the moment - is so rewarding, and being captain as well, it is probably my proudest and biggest achievement at Essex.
"Subconsciously we've tried to be more relaxed and place more faith in the players, and that's shown in the belief guys have shown in themselves. A year ago, or two years ago there would have been stages, in the same position, where we would have folded and the belief in the camp this year has been a lot better. I personally think the captaincy thing is overrated, I believe it's more the environment you can create. I don't really have too much to say on it but things have clicked pretty much from the first game."
Essex have barely clicked so well in four-day cricket since they won Division Two way back in 2002. Only in the middle of the season, when they lost twice in three games, to Leicestershire and Gloucestershire, did they falter. "Since then, we've been really switched on, learned quickly from the mistakes we've made. Four-day cricket is never easy but we've pretty much been faultless over the last five or six weeks," ten Doeschate said.
It has, as the captain was keen to stress, been a collective effort. Essex have the leading wicket-taker in the division, in Graham Napier, as well as two batsman with more than 1000 Championship runs (Tom Westley and ten Doeschate) and a third, Nick Browne, just shy of the mark; the team have racked up more than 500 on five occasions (twice passing 600), something no other Division Two county has done more than twice. Oh, and Alastair Cook's 643 runs at 91.85 have helped, too.
The strategy that Essex set out at the end of last season has been followed with doctrinal zeal. Silverwood was appointed with the aim of getting Essex into Division One of the Championship and he has succeeded where Paul Grayson failed so often, at the first time of asking.
Quarter-final defeats in the NatWest Blast and Royal London Cup were uncomfortably reminiscent of the Grayson era but, while limited-overs cricket is important to the club's finances, Essex believe that being in the top-tier of the Championship is the best way to retain the talent they bring through. The XI for this match, which included the returning Wheater and Varun Chopra in anticipation of Division One challenges ahead, might be considered validation of such a strategy, with only ten Doeschate and Kent-born David Masters requiring honorary Essex boy status.
The Championship side has come together as the perfect blend of youth and experience, at least as far as Division Two goes. How they will fare in Division One without Napier and Masters - whose retirement seems imminent - is one of the imponderables that Essex regulars will return to gnaw at periodically over the winter months.
For now, Essex have their moment in the late-September sun. On an oppressively hot afternoon, a blissed-out crowd slowly swelled beyond four figures, applauding singles and cheering boundaries as ten Doeschate and his predecessor, James Foster, took them to the ECG equivalent of nirvana. "Come on you Essex boys!" was the cry, before ten Doeschate and Foster embraced. They are coming.