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Steven Finn puts in mature display as nightwatchman

Finn curbs his instincts to deliver one of the great nightwatchman innings in Dunedin

By
Ian Prince

PUBLISHED:

07:01 GMT, 10 March 2013

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UPDATED:

09:55 GMT, 10 March 2013

As Steven Finn made his way to the University Oval this morning, he discussed the day ahead with a member of England's support staff.

The conversation went something like this: 'How are you feeling'

'Good,' said the fast bowler. 'I know I need to bat a long time but there's this little devil on my shoulder telling me to play some shots.'

Assured: Steven Finn put in a mature performance at the crease and hit 56 runs in Dunedin

Assured: Steven Finn put in a mature performance at the crease and hit 56 runs in Dunedin

'Don't listen to it,' came the sensible reply.

Finn did just that, curbing his inner devil to help save this first Test and put New Zealand's bowlers through hell in Dunedin as he produced one of the great nightwatchman innings in the history of English cricket.

Before he took guard on the fourth evening following the dismissal of his captain Alastair Cook, Finn had batted a combined total of 291 minutes across 20 previous Test innings. By the time he was out in the second over after tea today, he had batted for 286.

In one knock he'd managed to cram in almost his entire Test batting career to date.

It was the second longest innings by an England nightwatchman, bettered only by the 306 minutes Jack Russell spent at the crease in a losing cause against the West Indies in Bridgetown, Barbados, in 1990. Russell, who batted at seven and finished his career with two Test centuries, is lucky to be classed as a nightwatchman given his pedigree with the bat.

Finn had little before this match, making his achievement even greater. His score, 56, was his highest in first-class cricket, beating the 32 he made against Essex at Lord's in 2011. His previous Test best was the 20 he managed in the first innings here.

Not since Alex Tudor's 99 against New Zealand at Edgbaston in 1999 has an England nightwatchman made more.

While much has been made of Finn's express pace – it is thought he could develop into England's first 100mph bowler – it is his presence in the dressing-room which has made a big impression on director of cricket Andy Flower in recent months.

And we're off: Finn substituted risky shots for sensible batting to help England draw the Test

And we're off: Finn substituted risky shots for sensible batting to help England draw the Test

And we're off: Finn substituted risky shots for sensible batting to help England draw the Test

At just 23 years of age, he is said by insiders within the camp to be an increasingly influential voice, keen to take on more responsibility.

Given his age, some have tipped him to one day take over the Test captaincy from Cook, five years his senior.

It was that willingness to take on responsibility which came to the fore on day five in Dunedin. When he started his epic knock yesterday, England were 231 for one, still 62 runs behind New Zealand's first innings total.

When he was eventually out early in the evening session today, trapped lbw by spinner Bruce Martin, his side were 93 runs ahead.

He had batted for 33 overs, more than an entire session, and it's fair to say that without Finn's dogged contribution, England would have not saved this match.

Graham Onions, Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar have gone down in folklore for their tailend defiance, the former saving two Test matches in South Africa in 2009/10 and the latter pair famously denying the Australians victory in the opening Test of the 2009 Ashes in Cardiff.

Gotcha: Finn was eventually bowled out lbw shortly after securing his half century

Gotcha: Finn was eventually bowled out lbw shortly after securing his half century

Happy: Both Finn (pictured) and Jonathan Trott made strides to help England avoid defeat

Happy: Both Finn (pictured) and Jonathan Trott made strides to help England avoid defeat

But Finn showed even more grit, at one point on the final afternoon digging in for 49 balls without scoring. In total he went 72 minutes without a run during a session in which he accumulated just 14.

He may have made Nick Compton look like Chris Gayle but the self-control and discipline he showed in curbing the devil inside his head shows what strong stuff mentally Finn is made of.

After the match, Cook confirmed Finn will now take nightwatchman duties away from the previous incumbent James Anderson permanently.

Following a display like this, it appears a wise choice.

Steven Finn and Jonathan Trott help England draw first Test with New Zealand

Finn and Trott help save first Test as England bat their way to a draw in Dunedin

By
Paul Newman

PUBLISHED:

03:51 GMT, 10 March 2013

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UPDATED:

03:51 GMT, 10 March 2013

Steven Finn took a big stride down this lifeless Dunedin wicket ball after ball to repel New Zealand and rescue England from first Test embarrassment today in one of the great displays of nightwatchman defiance.

Not since Alex Tudor made an unbeaten 99 in England’s victory charge against New Zealand in 1999 at Edgbaston has a bowler doing a batsman’s job for England made such an impact as a nightwatchman.

It seemed an excessively cautious act by England to send Finn in ahead of Jonathan Trott when Alastair Cook was out with just over two overs left on the fourth day but far from just seeing his team through to the close the big fast bowler went on and on and on today.

Unlikely hero: Nightwatchman Steven Finn hit 50 as England drew the first Test

Unlikely hero: Nightwatchman Steven Finn hit 50 as England drew the first Test

Finn outlasted Nick Compton, Trott and Kevin Pietersen to score his first half-century in first-class cricket and go a long way towards earning England a draw that will feel like a great escape after they were humiliated for an abject 167 in their first innings.

For whatever inexplicable reason England have again been slow starters in an overseas series but have got away with their first innings negligence here and will feel that they cannot bat as badly again at either Wellington or Auckland.

They owe much of that to Finn. If the man preferred to Jimmy Anderson as nightwatchman got out early on the fifth day it is probable that England would have been on the end of one of the biggest upsets in recent Test history.

As it was they were made to battle all the way by a New Zealand side who pushed hard for what would have been one of their greatest modern wins, having England421 for six, a lead of 128, when both Brendon McCullum decided that enough was enough at the start of the last hour.

Such had been the quality of the start of England’s second innings, Compton and Cook putting on 231 for the first wicket, that England knew they just had to bat sensibly on what was effect a fourth day pitch to survive.

But Compton, who played what may turn out to be a career defining innings to record his maiden Test century on Saturday, could add only 15 to his overnight 102 before he was trapped lbw by the impressive and ever persevering Neil Wagner to give New Zealand hope.

That brought in Trott who had the rare experience of outscoring his partner as he moved smoothly along towards a fluent half-century, the only surprise coming when he was athletically caught by Wagner off his own bowling.

Kevin Pietersen, still looking rusty after his extended break from first-class cricket, arrived on a king pair but eased his first ball through midwicket for two. It could have been the cue to calm Pietersen down but he never looked comfortable before inside edging his new nemesis Wagner through to BJ Watling and departed for 12. England can only hope he is more fluent is the second Test which begins on Thursday.

When England had moved on to 382 for four at tea, a lead of 89, that seemed all but safe but the trouble was that they had scored too slowly to be out of New Zealand’s reach, only 53 runs coming in the middle session.

Certainly when Finn’s long vigil was over when he was trapped attempting to sweep the left-arm spinner Bruce Martin, after facing 203 balls for his 56, there was the hint of a twitch for England. When Joe Root was then run out without scoring the wobble was very much on.

But the bottom line was that this was a lifeless University Oval pitch, which made England’s first innings capitulation all the more inexplicable, and Ian Bell and Matt Prior were able to negotiate the remaining overs for England without alarm.

New Zealand will be able to hold their heads up high after this match. They went into the series seemingly in turmoil internally and with very few players of genuine Test-class. Yet in Neil Wagner they seem to have found a left-arm seamer with considerable enthusiasm and no little pace and in Hamish Rutherford they have found an opener who has started off in the best manner possible.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that England, under-prepared after just one first-class warm-up match, were complacent here, even if it was sub-consciously, but they now know they are in a proper series.

The second Test follows in Wellington on Thursday and , after this experience, they will be backing themselves to do what they did in India and come back from a rotten first Test to win the series.

Jimmy Anderson on cloud nine after dismissing Sachin Tendulkar – Lawrence Booth

Top Spin at the Test: 'Burnley Express' on cloud nine

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UPDATED:

19:50 GMT, 14 December 2012

When Jimmy Anderson knocked back Sachin Tendulkar's middle stump via an inside edge to dismiss him for just two, it was the ninth time in Tests Anderson has got his man – the most by any bowler during Tendulkar's 194-match career, one clear of Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan. In all, Anderson has trapped Tendulkar lbw three times, bowled him twice and had him caught behind and in the slips twice each.

Tormentor: James Anderson (file image)

Tormentor: James Anderson (file image)

Sehwag's unwanted record

Tendulkar may not be the only Indian batsman developing a complex about Anderson. Virender Sehwag also lost his middle stump to the England bowler, thus completing his 16th Test duck – a record for an Indian recognised batsman. Seven of those blobs have come against England, with Anderson now his chief tormentor, having also removed him for nought at Mumbai in March 2006 and at Edgbaston in August 2011.

Cheteshwar Pujara became the latest victim of a poor umpiring decision in this series when he was given out by Rod Tucker caught at short leg off his elbow. Despite that, it was a superb reflex catch by Ian Bell, who had resumed his customary position under the helmet after Joe Root had missed a chance there seven overs earlier, failing to stay down and getting hit flush on the right shin as Pujara played forward to Monty Panesar.

Root is up in good company

Only three England batsmen have made more runs in their debut Test innings against India than Joe Root's 73. Kent's Bryan Valentine hit 136 at the Brabourne Stadium in what was then Bombay way back in December 1933, while Owais Shah managed 88 at Mumbai's newer Wankhede Stadium in March 2006, an innings in which he was affected by wrist cramps. Lancashire's Geoff Pullar hit 75 at Headingley in 1959.

Swann is flying again

When Graeme Swann made 85 against South Africa at Centurion three years ago, hopes were high that England were uncovering a bowling all-rounder. But his 56 yesterday was his first half-century since that Test, in which time – until yesterday – he had scored only 679 Test runs at an average of 18. The way he timed Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla for sixes was a long overdue reminder of what he is capable of.

India v England third Test in Kolkata: Five crazy runouts

After Cook is bizarrely dismissed in Kolkata, we take a look at five other crazy runouts

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 7 December 2012

England captain Alastair Cook was run out on 190 as he tried to avoid a throw from Virat Kohli on day three of the third Test against India in Kolkata. He is not the first batsman to be run out in bizarre fashion though. Here, Sportsmail looks at five famous examples…

Allan Donald (Edgbaston, 1999)

South Africa needed one run to beat Australia at Edgbaston and reach their first World Cup final when Lance Klusener hit Damien Fleming to mid-on and started running. But last man Allan Donald didn’t hear his call, dropped his bat, and eventually set off for the single far too late. As Australia’s fielders went berserk, Donald was left to reflect on one of cricket’s cruellest chokes.

Cruel: Australia go wild as Donald is run out

Cruel: Australia go wild as Donald is run out

Cruel: Australia go wild as Donald is run out

Mike Atherton (Lord’s, 1993)

The England opener was on 97 when he turned Australia’s captain Allan Border through midwicket. He and Mike Gatting had run two and Atherton hesitated before setting off for a third. But he changed his mind, before slipping and scrabbling about on all fours as Merv Hughes’s throw from the deep left him stranded on 99. He never did make a Test hundred at Lord’s.

Falling short: Atherton can't get back in his crease

Falling short: Atherton can't get back in his crease

Falling short: Atherton can't get back in his crease

Evasive action: Inzamam is harshly given out

Evasive action: Inzamam is harshly given out

Hanif Mohammad (Karachi, 1959)

Playing for Karachi in a Pakistani domestic game, their Test opener Hanif Mohammad had moved to 498 with a ball to go on the second day. He duly played it to point and set off for two, only to be beaten in search of a 500th run. The batsman at the other end, Abdul Aziz, died later that season after being hit over the heart.

Inzamam-ul-Haq (Faisalabad, 2005)

Pakistan’s captain had played a defensive shot to Steve Harmison during the second Test at Faisalabad when the England fast bowler immediately threw down the stumps. In an attempt to get out of the way, Inzamam jumped in the air – and was wrongly given run out by third umpire Nadeem Ghauri, despite being in his crease when he took evasive action.

Ian Meckiff (Brisbane, 1960)

Australia
needed one to win off the last ball of the Brisbane Test against West
Indies, when last man Lindsay Kline turned Wes Hall to the leg side. But
fielder Joe Solomon reacted quickly, throwing down the stumps at the
striker’s end with Meckiff short of his ground. The result was the first
tie in Test history. There has been only one since.

ECB release 2013 domestic cricket fixtures

Warwickshire to start defence of County Championship against Derbyshire as 2013 domestic fixtures are announced

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UPDATED:

15:10 GMT, 26 November 2012

Warwickshire are set to begin their LV= County Championship defence at Edgbaston against newly promoted Derbyshire after the domestic season’s fixtures were announced this afternoon.

The first round of the County Championship matches starts on Wednesday April 10 after champions Warwickshire return from Abu Dhabi having taken part in the traditional season opener against MCC.

The Clydesdale Bank 40, meanwhile, begins on Friday May 3 with holders Hampshire taking on Essex at Chelmsford in the floodlit game.

Ready Warwickshire start their title defence against Derbyshire on April 10

Ready Warwickshire start their title defence against Derbyshire on April 10

The final of the competition, which sees the 18 first-class counties joined by Scotland, the Netherlands and the Unicorns, will be held on Saturday September 21 at Lord’s.

The Friends Life t20 begins on Wednesday June 26 and, as usual, will include the first-class counties divided into three geographical groups before being pitted against one another.

The Friends Life t20 Finals Day will be held at Edgbaston on Saturday August 17.

Seven international teams are scheduled to play series in the UK next summer with New Zealand, Australia, Australia A, Bangladesh A, Bangladesh U19s, Pakistan U19s, and Australia Women all touring.

A full list of fixtures are published on the ECB's website here.

LV=CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES ON THE OPENING DAY

All the below matches begin on Wednesday April 10

Warwickshire v Derbyshire Edgbaston, Birmingham

Durham v Somerset Emirates Durham ICG, Chester-le-Street

Yorkshire v Sussex Headingley Carnegie, Leeds

Nottinghamshire v Middlesex Trent Bridge, Nottingham

Stuart broad untroubled by Kevin Pietersen saga

Broad looking to concentrate on cricket as Pietersen saga follows England to Sri Lanka

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UPDATED:

12:23 GMT, 14 September 2012

Stuart Broad has travelled almost 6,000 miles in under 24 hours – but still cannot get away from questions about Kevin Pietersen.

The latter is absent, of course, from England's defence of their ICC World Twenty20 crown after his summer of contract wrangles with his employers.

But the prodigal batsman, player-of-the-tournament when England won their first International Cricket Council trophy in this shortest format in the Caribbean two years ago, still looms large.

Looking dapper: Stuart Broad says the England team want to concentrate on their game

Looking dapper: Stuart Broad says the England team want to concentrate on their game

Here they come: Graeme Swann arrives in Colombo

Here they come: Steven Finn arrives in Colombo

Here they come: Steven Finn (right) and Graeme Swann (left) arrive in Colombo

Conjecture over Pietersen's presence or otherwise will become feverish again if, as expected, England press on with plans to name their Test squad next Tuesday to tour India.

It is a line of questioning, of course, captain Broad could do without as he tries to fine-tune England's preparations for a campaign they will begin in earnest next week.

Within hours of touching down in Colombo, and less than two days after leading his country to Twenty20 victory over South Africa at Edgbaston, he found himself answering familiar questions – in familiar vein.

'It's not something we need to focus on as players,' he said.

'It doesn't affect what we do on the field; whether you hit the ball for six, or nail your yorker or slower ball. That's what we're here to do.'

Big hitter: Jos Buttler (left) will be hoping to put in another stellar performance as he did against South Africa

Big hitter: Jos Buttler (left) will be hoping to put in another stellar performance as he did against South Africa

Focus: Broad wants to concentrate on cricket, not the Kevin Pietersen saga

Focus: Broad wants to concentrate on cricket, not the Kevin Pietersen saga

Pietersen, dropped from last month's Lord's Test over his disagreements with the England and Wales Cricket Board and the infamously 'provocative' texts he sent to South Africa players at Headingley, is still planning to fly to Sri Lanka himself as a broadcast pundit.

Broad, however, expects his side to take little notice.

'We need to stay very much within our 'bubble' as a team. We have a very big one-game mentality.

'We're going to focus on our warm-up game against Australia, play that, review it and move on; if we focus on those things and don't let outside influences disrupt us, we may have a really good opportunity.'

Gary Kirsten to give final Twenty20 between South Africa and England a miss

Kirsten to give final T20 match a miss to spend time with family

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UPDATED:

16:25 GMT, 11 September 2012


Family affair: South Africa head coach Gary Kirsten will miss Wednesday's final Twenty20 international at Edgbaston

Family affair: South Africa head coach Gary Kirsten will miss Wednesday's final Twenty20 international at Edgbaston

South Africa coach Gary Kirsten will miss Wednesday's final NatWest Twenty20 international against England to spend time with his family.

The former Proteas opener has opted to take a break from the squad as they conclude their ICC World Twenty20 preparations at Edgbaston, before rejoining them in Colombo on September 16 ahead of the start of the tournament.

Kirsten said: 'I have made a decision to go home and to see my family, that is something that has always been part of my thinking when I took up this job.

'I think it will be good for the team, just to have me out of the space for a little bit and to see how the ship runs. I'm looking forward to seeing how that unfolds.'

Kirsten has taken intermittent breaks from the Proteas since succeeding long-term interim coach Corrie van Zyl at the helm 15 months ago.

His decision to return early from the tour mirrors England coach Andy Flower's absence from the fifth one-day international at Trent Bridge, which the hosts lost by seven wickets.

The Proteas lead the Twenty20 series 1-0 after Monday's second match at Old Trafford was abandoned as a no result.

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 fixtures announced

England to face Australia in Champions Trophy opener ahead of 2013 Ashes

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UPDATED:

11:43 GMT, 21 August 2012

England will begin their 2013 ICC Champions Trophy campaign against traditional rivals Australia.

The tournament, hosted by England, will begin with a clash between India and South Africa on June 6, 2013 after the fixtures were announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board on Tuesday morning.

Baptism of fire: England start their Champions Trophy campaign against Australia

Baptism of fire: England start their Champions Trophy campaign against Australia

Group A features Australia, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka while India, Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies will compete in Group B, with matches held at Edgbaston, Cardiff and The Oval.

The three grounds will each host four matches in the group stage, with semi-finals at The Oval on June 19 and Cardiff on June 20 and the final at Edgbaston on June 23.

Defending champions: Australia lift their second successive crown in 2009

Defending champions: Australia lift their second successive crown in 2009

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 fixtures:

Group A: England v Australia, June 8, Edgbaston; Sri Lanka v New
Zealand, June 9, Cardiff; Australia v New Zealand, June 12, Edgbaston;
England v Sri Lanka, June 13, The Oval; England v New Zealand, June 16,
Cardiff; Sri Lanka v Australia, June 17, The Oval.

Group B: India v South Africa, June 6, Cardiff; West Indies v Pakistan,
June 7, The Oval; Pakistan v South Africa, June 10, Edgbaston; India v
West Indies, June 11, The Oval; West Indies v South Africa, June 14,
Cardiff; India v Pakistan, June 15, Edgbaston.

Semi-finals: Group A Winner v Group B runner-up, June 19, The Oval; Group B Winner v Group A runner-up, June 20, Cardiff.

Final: June 23, Edgbaston.

Arch-rivals India and Pakistan meet on June 15 in Birmingham, the same venue where Australia face New Zealand three days earlier.

Tournament director Steve Elworthy said: 'This will be a terrific opportunity for fans to see the world's very best one-day sides in action over the space of less than three weeks and the fixture schedule has thrown up a host of exciting head-to-head contests.

'The format means every match counts and all eight teams will feel that they are capable of winning the tournament in a competition which is set to be one of the highlights of the 2013 international calendar.'

Glamorgan chairman Barry O'Brien said, 'The opportunity to stage ICC Champions Trophy fixtures in Cardiff is an exciting one. To mark our 125th anniversary as a host venue to the best cricketers from around the globe is a real accolade for us.'

From Barrington to Pietersen: Six cricketers who fell foul of England

From Barrington to Pietersen: Six cricketers who fell foul of England

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UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 14 August 2012

Kevin Pietersen is not the only England player to be dropped for an indiscretion -either on and off the field. Lawrence Booth recalls the players who have fallen foul of the English cricket authorities.

Ken Barrington

One of England’s greatest batsmen, Barrington made the mistake of taking seven hours 17 minutes to score 137 against a weak New Zealand side at Edgbaston in 1965. England won the game easily, but Wisden described his innings as a ‘tedious exhibition’: at one point, Barrington – batting with an unusual two-eyed stance – failed to score for 20 overs. With the authorities in the 1960s desperate to serve up brighter cricket for the public, Barrington was dropped for the next Test at Lord’s.

Unbeaten: But Geoffrey Boycott paid the price for his slow scoring

Unbeaten: But Geoffrey Boycott paid the price for his slow scoring

Geoff Boycott

A Test-best unbeaten 246 against India in 1967 at Headingley, his home ground, should have been the highlight of Boycott’s career. Instead England dropped him for what they regarded as selfish batting. In all, he faced 555 balls, with journalist John Woodcock describing the effort as ‘more of an occupation than an innings’. Boycott later wrote: ‘The alternative was to give my wicket away and return to the anonymity of the dressing room.’

Brian Close

Appointed England captain towards the end of the 1966 summer, Close did not last long in the job after he was accused of time-wasting during a tense run-chase in a county championship match between Yorkshire and Warwickshire at Edgbaston. The Yorkshire chairman Brian Sellers did not help matters by apologising for the incident to the MCC, who promptly sacked Close at the end of the 1967 home series with Pakistan. In his seven Tests in charge, England won six and drew one.

Tony Greig

When Greig, then the England captain, signed up with Kerry Packer in 1977 to take part in his World Series Cricket, the game’s establishment spluttered collectively into their gin and tonics. Donald Carr of the old Test and County Cricket Board – now the ECB – complained of a ‘breach of normal trust’. Greig, who was immediately sacked as captain, insisted he had taken the action ‘in the best interests of cricketers the world over’.

Ousted: Tony Greig (left) was relieved of his duties after the Kerry Packer affair

Ousted: Tony Greig (left) was relieved of his duties after the Kerry Packer affair

Mike Gatting

His eventual downfall as captain turned out to be a dalliance with a barmaid called Louise Shipman in the Rothley Court Hotel in Leicester during the first Test against West Indies at Trent Bridge in 1988. But the TCCB were merely looking for their moment to pounce following Gatting’s finger-wagging exchange with umpire Shakoor Rana in the Faisalabad Test the previous winter.

Kevin Pietersen

After being sacked as England captain at the start of 2009 following his fallout with coach Peter Moores, Pietersen was dropped from the Test side on Sunday following revelations he had sent derogatory texts about Andrew Strauss and the dressing-room atmosphere to the South Africans. When he failed to deny the story, the ECB left him out of the squad – the game after his brilliant 149 in the second Test at Headingley.

Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara suffer agony again

England duo Cook and Bopara suffer agony again as Somerset beat Essex

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 24 July 2012

England batsmen Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara endured more misery on Tuesday as their Essex side crashed out of the Friends Life t20 in a quarter-final at Somerset.

A day after England fell to an innings defeat by South Africa at The Oval, the pair tried to help their county reach next month's finals day at Edgbaston, but Bopara was dismissed for a second-ball duck and opener Cook for 28 as they were all out 28 runs short of their target chasing Somerset's 175 for six despite Ryan ten Doeschate's late 47-run salvo.

James Hildreth top-scored with 58 off 36 balls for the hosts

Agony: Cook managed 28 as Essex fell short of their target

Agony: Cook managed 28 as Essex fell short of their target