Cox hits century as Essex beat Warwickshire

Vitality County Championship Division One, Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford (day four)

Warwickshire 397 & 94: Yates 28; Critchley 4-24, Harmer 3-28

Essex 162 & 331-6: Cox 112, Critchley 99*, Elgar 60; Rae 3-86

Essex (18 pts) beat Warwickshire (6pts) by four wickets

Match scorecard

Jordan Cox and Matt Critchley did the damage as title hopefuls Essex chased down a target of 330 to complete a superb four-wicket comeback win over Warwickshire at Chelmsford.

Cox led the way with 112 and shared in a club-record fifth-wicket partnership against Warwickshire of 176 in 54 overs with Critchley that took Essex within sight of victory.

Critchley deserved a century of his own but was was left stranded on 99 not out when Simon Harmer pulled the winning boundary off Che Simmons quarter of an hour before the scheduled lunch interval on day four.

Essex's third win of the season kept them on the heels of defending champions Surrey at the top of the County Championship.

Warwickshire, meanwhile, were left to rue what might have been.

The match had swung every which way during the first three days with both sides in the ascendancy at various times.

Warwickshire had recovered from 104-6 to gain a first-innings lead of 235, but declined to enforce the follow-on.

When they were dismissed for 94 second time around, that decision came under the microscope and it left Essex needing 330 to win in more than five sessions.

The hosts resumed the final day on 224-4 with Cox on 77 and Critchley 46 and they took Essex to within 42 runs of victory before finally being parted.

Cox, having reached his second century for Essex, was the man to fall when he flicked Simmons' first ball off his legs to Jacob Bethell on the deep square-leg boundary.

That reignited Warwickshire and Michael Rae bowled Michael Pepper cheaply to leave Essex on 293-6.

But Critchley and Harmer ensured there was no late twist in the tale as Essex closed the gap on leaders Surrey.

All-rounder Matt Critchley told BBC Essex:

"We said we just needed one big stand and it was me and Coxy who got it. It’s quite funny because when you need 200 plus to win you don’t get nervous, but when it gets down to 30 you start wondering where the next boundary is coming from.

"That is my best four-day innings, to come in when we were in a bit of trouble and see it through to the end is pretty special.

"There was no chat between Simon (Harmer) and me about getting me to a century, it was just getting over the line. It was my 100th first class game so making three figures would’ve been special but I’m just as pleased with the win.

"It keeps Surrey in sight. It’s like chasing Manchester City sometimes but we just have to keep going and keep the pressure on."

Warwickshire captain Alex Davies told BBC CWR:

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow. Losing last week at The Oval you can take a little bit better because we got out-performed, but this week it was more of our own doing and that’s definitely harder to take.

“We’ve clearly lost the game in the third innings. There was so much time left - and we had a first-innings lead of 235. It’s criminal to lose a game from that position.

“We’ve got a lot of bowlers injured at the minute and Olly Hannon-Dalby is really feeling the pinch. We’ve got Michael Rae who’s not played a game of cricket in months so he was undercooked, and we’ve got Che Simmons on debut.

“But if we’d batted anywhere near what we should have done it would have got them a nice rest."

Report by ECB Reporters' Network