Essex v Warwickshire: Simon Harmer takes 14 wickets to secure innings win

Essex celebrate a wicket against Warwickshire
With the threat of bad weather, Simon Harmer and Essex got the job done in time to celebrate their fourth win of the season
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Cloudfm County Ground (day four):
Essex 541-9 dec: Bopara 192, Foster 121; Patel 4-138
Warwickshire 283: Patel 71; Harmer 6-92 & 94: Harmer 8-36
Essex (22 pts) beat Warwickshire (3 pts) by an innings and 164 runs

South Africa Test spinner Simon Harmer claimed a career-best 14 wickets in the match as County Championship leaders Essex dealt bottom club Warwickshire a fourth innings defeat of the season.

Resuming on their overnight score of 27-2, the Bears added 20 runs before six wickets went down for 35 before lunch, five of them to Harmer.

After a delayed lunch, he took the last two to end with 8-36, also a best.

Warwickshire were bowled out for 94 to lose by an innings and 164 runs.

Eight of Harmer's wickets in the match were lbw, an indication of how straight he bowled, although one decision given by umpire Neil Bainton, when Rikki Clarke padded up outside off stump, had non-striker Tim Ambrose throwing his bat to the ground in frustration.

Harmer's 14-128 was Essex's best bowling figures in a match since Mark Ilott took 14-105 against Northamptonshire at Wardown Park, Luton in 1995.

Essex, chasing their first Championship title since 1992, extended their Division One lead to 14 points with their fourth win of the season. And they will be boosted by the addition of Pakistan international Mohammad Amir for their next game - the day-night fixture against champions Middlesex, which starts on Monday.

Having removed Jonathan Trott with the last ball of day three, Essex paved the way to victory when New Zealand's Neil Wagner, in his last game before Amir's arrival, had Bears captain Ian Bell caught behind for 11 early on day four.

From there, Warwickshire folded badly again to suffer the heaviest of their four innings defeats in six matches in 2017.

They have just 31 points from their first six matches and are already 40 points adrift of safety going into next week's inaugural round of day/night matches, when they face Lancashire at Edgbaston.

Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate told BBC Radio Essex:

"There aren't many bowlers who could win you a game singlehandedly on a docile pitch like that. Simon Harmer has been everything and more what we were looking for in a spinner. In April, May and June, you're probably looking for a holding spinner, and he's done that job fantastically well.

"Obviously our first priority, without stating it explicitly, was to make sure we retained Division One status. Without really getting ahead of ourselves, 110 points at the halfway mark almost guarantees that. Now is the time to be brave and really push on. It is fairly evident that now is the time to start pushing for results and give ourselves the chance to be around the top at the end of the season.

"We are a far better team than we were six weeks ago. Certainly, the confidence from winning four games in this division is high. It is fair to say we were a bit timid at that stage. We took a serious drubbing against Lancashire and got away with it in the first game. "

Warwickshire captain Ian Bell told BBC WM:

"There weren't harsh words said, just a bit of honesty. It's what you have to do. There's no point running away from poor performances. It's been a really tough year for us so far. The way we're performing at the minute we're not doing it. We have to get better.

"You can't paper over cracks, can you? You can't just wish and cross your fingers and hope things are going to get better. We're in a professional business and it's ruthless. You can't turn up and play well for a session and poorly for a second and expect to be OK. Four-day cricket is tough. We have to be more consistent in our performances and front up, starting next week against Lancashire.

"It was a really great toss to win. It really did spin. It was the biggest spinning pitches I've seen in a while in terms of off the straight. We've been on the end of a few bad tosses, but you can't rely on winning the toss to win the game and having the conditions in your favour all the time, it's not what it's all about. You have to adapt and we're not adapting enough."

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