Essex Eagles v Notts Outlaws
Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final
Brian Jeeves reporting from the Cloudfm County Ground
Notts Outlaws: 373/5 (49.3 overs) beat Essex Eagles: 370/5 (50.0 overs) by five wickets
ESSEX EAGLES missed out on a place in the final of the Royal London One-Day Cup after Notts Outlaws dramatically produced the highest run chase in English domestic one-day cricket to win by five wickets at Chelmsford.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, the Essex opening pair of Varun Chopra and Alastair Cook made swift progress, putting on 50 inside the first eight overs. Former England skipper Cook passed his own half-century in just 53 balls, including 9 boundaries. Chopra was first to depart on 23, brilliantly caught by Notts wicketkeeper Chris Read, Steven Mullaney the man to profit with the ball, the partnership had yielded 87.
Tom Westley reached 300 one-day runs for the season as the host’s continued to score at a steady rate. However, the right-hander was soon back in the pavilion after hitting 33 off 23 balls, Samit Patel claiming his first wicket, thanks to a catch from Brendan Taylor.
Stuart Broad removed Ravi Bopara for 16, Read again taking the catch. But Cook was clearly in the mood, reaching his century off 95 balls, his third one-day ton of the campaign, as Essex continued to progress at more than six an over.
Cook and Ryan ten Doeschate continued to motor, with the Essex captain reaching his own 50 as the pair put together a fourth wicket stand of 98. Cook was eventually snared in the gloves of Read off a delivery from Patel for 136, then Ashir Zaidi became Broad’s second victim, leaving the host’s of 295/5.
James Foster joined ten Doeschate, forging a useful partnership that yielded a useful 75. Ten Doeschate became the home side’s second centurion, reaching three figures off just 64 balls, including five 6’s. The Dutchman finished unbeaten on 102, while Foster reached 27* as Essex posted a healthy 370/5 from their 50 overs. Patel with 2/51 was the pick of the Notts attack, while Broad chipped in with figures of 2/56.
The visitor were going to have to pull off something extraordinary in order to progress, and so it proved. However, much to the sellout crowds delight, Michael Lumb was removed in the second over, caught by Simon Harmer off the bowling of Jamie Porter, as the Notts response got off to an unsteady start. Nevertheless, the Outlaws possess a formidable batting line-up, Riki Wessels and Alex Hales made swift inroads into the Essex total, reaching 73 before Porter emphatically bowled the latter after he’d hit a quickfire 39.
Right-arm medium-fast bowler Porter was clearly fired up and carrying the fight for the home side, taking his third wicket shortly after to see off Wessels, who played onto his own stumps, leaving Notts on 80/3.
Taylor and Patel proved to be a thorn in the side of the Essex attack. The Notts pair seemed comfortable, putting on 95 before a huge mix-up saw Taylor comically run out by Porter for 62.
Patel and Mullaney both continued to move along comfortably scoring at 7.40 an over ensuring the match now firmly in Notts’ favour.
Incredibly, all-rounder Patel became the third player in the match to pass three figures following a delightful knock. And the drama kept coming as Mullaney followed suit, reaching his milestone with a towering six and off just 71 balls as the visitors appeared to be honing in on a final appearance.
They was still time for Mullaney to fall, caught Foster off the bowling of Neil Wagner for 111, but the visitors had done enough. Perhaps fittingly, Patel brought the curtain down on a memorable encounter with a boundary, sending Notts to their first final since 2013.
Speaking after the match, Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate said: “I really don’t have words to describe how I feel and I think the whole team feel the same way. You’d like to think that what we’ve been through in the last few years we’d have learnt our lessons.
“I’d like to start again by winding the clock back three and a half hours. At that point, you’d think there is no way you could lose that game. I don’t think we could have batted much better than that.
“With the ball, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered and reviewed, what we said we were going to do and what we did. I don’t know exactly why that was the case.
“The guys who have lead the line before, Harmer and Wagner, weren’t maybe as effective today and maybe I got a few things wrong with changing them around.
“You need to be smart and keep your composure. As much as it was a good wicket, bowlers who banged it in and kept bowling straight were successful. Yes, it ran away and it was a bit frantic towards the end of it. But we could have bowled a lot better than we did for 50 overs.
“There is lots to be proud of it from this campaign. I feel we developed a few of the young lads, Paul Walter and Jamie Porter in particular. Ravi’s resurgence with the bat has been fantastic and obviously Cookie piling on the runs. We’ve only lost two games, one by one run, the other not being able to defend 370, so that’s a positive. The Championship is going really well so that is a big thing for the club.”
Notts century-maker Steven Mullaney said: “A day out at Lord’s – what more would you want from a one-day season.
“Within five days we have played on two of the best one-day pitches I have ever played on. It was a great pitch and credit to Essex for putting on that pitch and putting on a fantastic day’s cricket.
“We knew it was important to get off to a good start and then every batter came in. Everything had to go our way and luckily it did.
“I got some added responsibility coming in at five until Alex came back today, then I was in at six. So it has been nice to repair Mooresy and Ready for the extra responsibility.”
Of the finale, Mullaney said: “That is the most nervous needing six off just 10 balls and getting to the last four. But it doesn’t matter as they took it off the last ball.
“In our team meetings, we are always saying we need just one more run than the opposition and that is what we have done twice this week.
“It was a fantastic chase and we will be very confident going to Lord’s on July 1.
“I don’t care who we get in the final. They are both great teams and both pose an equal amount of threat. We’re confident of taking anyone at the minute.”
Essex Eagles: AN Cook, V Chopra, T Westley, RS Bopara, RN ten Doeschate*, Ashar Zaidi, JS Foster†, SR Harmer, PI Walter, N Wagner, JA Porter
Notts Outlaws: MJ Lumb, AD Hales, MH Wessels, SR Patel, BRM Taylor, SJ Mullaney, CMW Read*†, SCJ Broad, JL Pattinson, JT Ball, HF Gurney
Essex won the toss and elected to bat