Just after England salvaged a win to draw the Ashes series, I posted my looking back on a summer of cricket blog (see here) noting the summer as far as high level cricket went was not ended, but now it has. In a game Essex needed to NOT lose, against title contenders Somerset, Essex did just that and in doing so won the County Championship (see here). Admittedly, they were helped by the rain, but a win is a win and Somerset, despite doctoring the pitch to eke out a result, disappointingly, after blazing the trail all season, still await their first championship win.
I have been an Essex cricket follower since I was at junior school. I attended my first match against the Australians, in Southchurch Park, when aged 13 (I bunked in), in a game Essex won. In later years, when Essex played matches in Southend, I tried to make at least one day’s play during the season, when I invariably multi-tasked, reading the county year handbook I had just purchased, while watching at the same time. Trevor Bailey was my early hero, and later it was Keith Fletcher and Graham Gooch. Unlike today, when I would be pressed to name half of the current side, I could name almost all the regulars in those early years and even had a good idea what were their playing statistics.
I confess it has been a few years since watching Essex play live, now based in Chelmsford where most of their home games are played, but last week the opportunity arose and I watched them chalk up an impressive win (while at the same time Somerset lost and gave the initiative back to Essex). It was a pleasant day and while the ground was not full, it was one third full and those watching struck me as genuine fans who enjoyed their cricket. Other than parking that was not that convenient and food that was not that good, it was an enjoyable experience and the ground staff were superb. While I am a great believer in the team ethic, the performance of one man, Simon Harmer, with both bat and ball was impressive. A few days later when it was touch and go for Essex to chalk up an unlikely win in the T20 bash, they did, and again Harmer, who hitherto I was barely aware off, played a key role, and Essex have just won the double!