The celebrations belonged to Essex but the inquest will surely be felt byYorkshire as a county that imagined itself as champions a year ago took a thorough pounding
Essex 227 (Harmer 64, Brooks 3-56, Patterson 3-66) and 334 for 7 dec (Lawrence 83, Browne 83, ten Doeschate 57) beat Yorkshire 111 (Wagner 3-21) and 74 (Cook 5-20) by 376 runs
Sam Cook, a complete unknown only a fee weeks ago, personified a season of excellence as he took 5 for 20 to skittle Yorkshire for 74 and round off a tumultuous season for Essex during which they have remained unbeaten in the Specsavers County Championship for the first time in their history.
The champions’ 10th victory of the 14-game campaign was followed by resounding applause and sprays of champagne post-match as they received the Championship trophy for the first time in 25 years. It was the moment they had waited for since the title was claimed a fortnight ago when they still had two games to play.
For Yorkshire, who were in the same celebratory mood just two summers ago, their total was their lowest since 1999 as they succumbed by a massive 376-run defeat in just 29 overs. There were still 25 overs remaining in the day when Matt Fisher was left on his back by Neil Wagner to end the season. It was as well they claimed the points required to avoid relegation on the first day otherwise their feeble effort could have been terminal.
Cook, who made his first-class debut for his home county less than two months ago, had taken a career-best 5 for 18 in the second innings at Southampton in the last game. The second five-fer of his embryonic career came before he returns next week to Loughborough University for the final year of his history degree course.
Cook put the skids under a Yorkshire top-order chasing an unlikely 451 to win with four wickets in 32 balls in a six-over, pre-tea burst.
Adam Lyth looked surprised to be given out caught behind to Cook’s second ball, and Kraigg Brathwaite played down the wrong line to be lbw to Porter in the next over. Alex Lees’s middle stump was sent cartwheeling by Cook and Yorkshire were already on an inexorable slide at 17 for three in the sixth over.
Cook claimed his third wicket for 11 runs when the Ashes-bound Gary Ballance fell lbw for just five. Jack Leaning was stuck in his crease playing forward and edging to James Foster to give Cook wicket No4.
Simon Harmer joined the party when Andrew Hodd became his latest lbw victim. Thirty-five for six.
Essex announced at the tea interval that Porter had signed a two-year contract extension taking him through to the end of the 2020 season. He had a double celebration first ball after the break when he had Steven Patterson caught behind to claim his 200th first-class wicket for the county.
That preceded Cook’s fifth wicket with his first ball upon his return for a second spell. Jack Brooks hung out his bat and played tamely into Varun Chopra’s hands at first slip. Thirty-seven for six at tea had become 38 for eight.
Karl Carver helped Matt Fisher put on 34 for the penultimate wicket in nine overs to give some respectability to the score before he departed lbw for nine. Fisher, who had taken three Essex second-innings wickets for 69, was the only batsman to make it into double figures. He was the last man to go for 25, caught behind for Foster’s eighth catch of the match, after Wagner had him flailing with a bouncer.
It meant Division One’s leading wicket-takers had shared 147 Championship wickets with Porter leading the way with 75 from Harmer.
At the start of the day, Essex’s overnight second-wicket century stand ended in the fourth over when Dan Lawrence went lbw to give Coad his 50th and last Championship wicket of the season. Lawrence’s 83 came from 156 balls, and with Nick Browne he put on 139 in 49 overs to lift Essex from 6 for 2 on the second afternoon.
Browne followed on the same personal score when Lyth made amends for a difficult dropped catch chance when the opener was 59. This time, Lyth held on to a snick at second slip to end Browne’s 166-ball innings that including 11 boundaries. James Foster then became the 10th lbw victim of the match to give Fisher the first of three wickets.
That brought together ten Doeschate and Harmer, who put on 75 in 21 overs for the sixth wicket. Ten Doeschate’s innings was full of nudges and nurdles, eight of them going to the boundary, and a ninth clearing the ropes at long leg.
He was finally out straight after lunch, in Fisher’s second over with the new-ball when ten Doeschate tried to withdraw his bat and was caught behind. The partnership with Harmer was worth 75 in 21 overs with the captain departing for a 92-ball 57 with eight fours and a six.
Harmer claimed his second half-century of the match, following his 64 in the first innings, when he clubbed Fisher through the covers from the 79th ball he faced. The seventh-wicket pair added 42 in eight overs with Neil Wagner, whose bright and breezy 23 came from 26.before he edged to second slip to give Fisher his third wicket at a personal cost of 69.
Ten Doeschate called his batsmen in 50 minutes after lunch following the second ball of the 96th over, when Porter hit the second of two fours in a five-ball 10. Essex had reached 334 for 7 without the requirement for the injured Tom Westley to bat.