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Essex completed their demolition job over Derbyshire midway through the third day by an innings and 178 runs at Chelmsford to return to second in the table.
Already three down overnight, Derbyshire lost Hassan Adnan early, a regulation catch in the slips by Ravi Bopara, off Andre Adams. Jake Needham, the nightwatchman, battled hard but Alex Tudor took three quick wickets before the lower order offered some late resistance.
The innings was eventually wrapped up by James Middlebrook and Tim Phillips 25 minutes after lunch. Tudor ended the match with an excellent low diving catch moving in from long-on off Phillips to remove Steffan Jones.
Essex will enter the final round of Championship matches leading Worcestershire by four points in the chase for the second promotion spot.