Essex Team    Getty Images
Essex Team Getty Images

Essex moved to within touching distance of their first English County Championship title in 25 years after they beat Warwickshire by an innings and 56 runs at Edgbaston on Thursday. Victory for the visitors meant Essex, only promoted to the First Division at the start of this season, will be crowned champions if Lancashire fail to win away to Somerset on Friday’s final day of four. Given Lancashire were 247 for eight in their second innings after following on at the end of the third day a lead of just 45 runs with two wickets standing, only an extraordinary turn of events in Taunton will stop Essex winning their first Championship title since 1992 on Friday.

Prolific Essex wicket-takers Simon Harmer (four for 25) and Jamie Porter (three for 37), who shared 15 wickets in the match, again did the damage as Warwickshire, bottom of the First Division, slumped to 112 all out. Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate said his side’s success this season proved the gap between the First and Second Divisions of the first-class County Championship was not as wide as often suggested by many pundits.”There’s not much difference and it’s one of the myths I hope we’ve dispelled this year,” said the Dutchman as he reflected on the season enjoyed by Essex, based in Chelmsford, east of London.

“Teams coming up don’t necessarily have to go down,” said ten Doeschate of an Essex side who were boosted by contributions earlier in the campaign from former England captain Alastair Cook, still a Test-match opening batsman and Pakistan paceman Mohammad Aamer. “It’s foolish to look at past records. You need to look at the team and the players you’ve got. By putting yourself in the position of fearing the change — it doesn’t help anyone.

“The myth of the big gap between the divisions got in our heads a little bit at the start.”