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RESULT
36th Match, Chelmsford, June 23 - 26, 2024, County Championship Division One
587 & 184/8d
(T:433) 339 & 208/2

Match drawn

Report

Dean Elgar drops anchor to keep Essex in touch with leaders Surrey

Championship challengers keep the deficit to 12 points ahead of crucial meeting next week

Dean Elgar acknowledges his half-century, Kent vs Essex, County Championship, Division One, Canterbury, May 24, 2024

Dean Elgar made his 50th first-class hundred  •  Getty Images

Essex 339 (Walter 134, Critchley 53, Potts 4-71) and 208 for 2 (Elgar 120*, Westley 63*) drew with Durham 587 and 184 for 8 dec (Borthwick 71, Harmer 4-75, Porter 3-18)
Dean Elgar reaped his 50th first-class century as he and Tom Westley dropped anchor to secure a draw against Durham in the Vitality County Championship.
Former South Africa international Elgar batted the whole of day four, almost exclusively with Westley, to make sure Durham didn't have a sniff of victory.
He ended up with 120 after an epically stoic 165 runs, 421 balls and 276 minutes third wicket stand with Westley - who scored 63 not out.
Essex are now 12 points behind leaders Surrey ahead of their meeting next week, while Durham remain in the chasing pack having collected 16 points from a match they led throughout.
The hosts needed 405 runs to win on the final day, a tough but not impossible task, but made no attempt to secure a fifth victory of the season.
The rationale made sense with a draw meaning Essex would fall 12 points behind table-toppers Surrey - but victory at the Kia Oval next week would likely even things back up.
Durham's initial aim had been to see off the night watcher Jamie Porter.
They managed to do that in the fifth over as the day when Matthew Potts beat his fellow fast bowler for pace and crashed into his off stump.
From then on, Elgar and Westley got their tents and airbeds out to camp out for the day - as Durham couldn't extract anything from the pitch to aide a wicket.
Westley took 19 balls to get off the mark, and when he did, he also ended a 27-ball spell barren of runs.
The lack of opportunity or entertainment seemed to get to the Durham team who took to slow clapping the bowler, in a similar manner to a long jumper preparing to leap.
Members of the crowd did not take kindly to the jesting and things got testy when a shout of "no ball" went up as Ben Raine was halfway through his run-up. The incident prompted the umpires to chat to Durham captain Scott Borthwick, while angry comments were volleyed between spectators and fielders.
Elgar and Westley were unfazed by the shenanigans as they reached lunch with just 54 runs scored in the morning session.
Things didn't change afterwards, but milestones began to appear. The fifty stand came in 168 balls, Elgar reached a half-century in 96 deliveries and the century partnership in 247 balls.
As close as Durham came to a wicket was when Elgar tried to clip Borthwick into the leg side but the ball struck Michael Jones at short leg and ballooned up for Ollie Robinson to pouch. But the umpires, and subsequent replays, made it clear it had been a bump ball.
It was one of only three appeals against Elgar, with the other two hopeful lbw shouts at best, with technique and temperament coming to the fore.
His maiden first-class century had been scored in Bloemfontein for Free State against Limpopo in 2007 as a 19-year-old.
Now 37, Elgar has a half-century of them to help Eagles, South Africa A, Knights, Somerset, Titans, Surrey and Northerns, although his most prized will be the 14 Test tons he plundered before retiring from international cricket last winter.
This one came up in 170 balls with a pronounced tickle around the corner before he lifted his helmet, clapped the balcony, and earned a hug off Westley.
A mere 85 runs came in the afternoon session, and once Westley had reached an 86th first-class fifty in 198 balls - and 17:00 BST had been reached the hands were shaken on a draw.
To sum up Elgar and Westley's solidity, exactly 400 dot balls had been delivered in Essex's second innings.