26th Match, Chelmsford, May 17 - 20, 2024, County Championship Division One
397 & 94
(T:330) 162 & 331/6

Essex won by 4 wickets


'New Jofra Archer' makes stunning impact on first-class debut

Che Simmons blasts a hole in Essex batting with three wickets in 15 balls as Warwickshire take stranglehold

Portrait of Warwickshire's Che Simmons, March 25, 2024

Che Simmons wrecked Essex's middle-order on his first-class debut  •  Getty Images

Warwickshire 397 (Barnard 165, Burgess 108) and 43 for 5 (Yates 28, Porter 2-17) lead Essex 162 (Cox 47, Simmons 3-12, Yates 3-27) by 278 runs
Che Simmons made a stunning impact on his first-class debut by blasting a gaping hole in the Essex batting with three wickets in 15 balls as Warwickshire gained a stranglehold on the Vitality County Championship match at Chelmsford.
The 20-year-old Barbadian-born, British passport-holder, dubbed the 'new Jofra Archer' when he signed three years ago, sent back Tom Westley, Nick Browne and Matt Critchley in a venomous opening spell of 6-2-10-3 that reduced Essex from 52 for 2 to 63 for 5 en route to 162 all out.
There were similarities with the England pace bowler as Simmons finished with 3 for 12 to enable Warwickshire to build upon Ed Barnard's six-and-three-quarter-hour, career-best 165 that underpinned their first-innings 397.
Essex were dismissed inside 52 overs, 235 runs adrift, though Warwickshire opted not to enforce the follow-on. They may live to regret the decision as they lost five wickets in 17.3 evening overs on day two while extending their lead by 43.
Captain Alex Davies departed to the fifth ball, steering Sam Cook to second slip, before Will Rhodes was undone by Jamie Porter and went lbw. Barnard was unable to replicate his first-innings heroics, chasing a Porter delivery down leg-side and was caught behind for a golden duck.
When Dan Mousley patted back Critchley's second ball and Rob Yates fell to the last ball of the day, lbw to Simon Harmer, Warwickshire were starting to relive the nightmare of their first innings when they had slumped to 64 for 5.
Simmons's fellow Warwickshire debutant Michael Rae, the New Zealand pace bowler signed this week as cover for a lengthening injury list in the pace department, set the ball rolling when Essex batted. Feroze Khushi tried to whip him through midwicket but only chipped tamely to mid-on.
Dean Elgar followed when edging an attempted cover drive off Oliver Hannon-Dalby to second slip.
Then Simmons took centre stage. Westley was induced to hook to short square leg where Sam Hain took his second catch inches off the ground. Browne then hung out his bat and was caught behind and next ball Critchley left his bat dangling and departed to the same combination.
Michael Pepper prevented Simmons celebrating even further by turning the hat-trick ball through midwicket. However, Hannon-Dalby replaced Simmons and had Pepper under-cutting and being caught behind.
Jordan Cox refused to be tied down amid the carnage and hit Hannon-Dalby for three successive boundaries, two angled down to third and another driven straight. He pulled Yates fiercely for six, attempted a repeat next ball that struck short-leg Hain plumb in the helmet necessitating his removal from the action, and then missed a reverse sweep two balls later and was bowled for 47.
Harmer had earlier completed his best season's bowling figures of 3 for 93 and reached double-figures with the bat for only the second time in eight innings. However, when on 13 he got a thin touch to Rae to give wicketkeeper Michael Burgess a fourth catch.
Yates wrapped up the innings for figures of 3 for 27 as Cook popped up a catch to Hain's replacement at bat-pad and Porter left one alone and was bowled.
Warwickshire batted for an hour and a half in the morning. Burgess lasted just seven more balls while adding three to his overnight 105 before edging Shane Snater behind to end a seventh-wicket stand of 209 with Barnard.
Simmons was as equally confident with the bat as with the ball before he attempted to sweep Harmer and was bowled. Rae fell the same way but only after launching Harmer's previous two balls for sixes.
Barnard reached his 150 with a six off Porter and equalled his previous top score of 163 with another maximum over long leg's head off Critchley. But two runs later he swung at the same bowler and was caught in the deep for his first dismissal of the day.

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County Championship Division One