MONTY Panesar’s stingy four-wicket return kept Essex in the County Championship fight at Worcestershire after Saeed Ajmal dominated the hosts’ bowling.

Worcester spinner Ajmal cleaned up Essex’s first innings with 6-5 as the visitors turned their overnight 52-2 into 203 all out at New Road.

The 36-year-old Pakistan slow bowler’s hefty haul would have put Worcestershire in the box seat, had Panesar not produced fine figures of 4-18 from 14.2 overs, including six maidens.

Worcester slipped to 105-8 at the close of the Division Two clash’s second day and their lead of 193 is not yet compelling enough to ensure victory.


Jesse Ryder top-scored with 45 runs in Essex’s first innings. Picture: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Worcester hit 291 in their first innings, and with overall scores defending, the hosts could face a battle to save a clash that Ajmal’s haul so nearly teed up.

Essex resumed on 52-2, only for Joe Leach to remove Jaik Mickleburgh lbw for 39.

Leach struck again as Ben Cox stumped Greg Smith on 31, with Essex 96 for four. Ajmal then dispatched Mark Pettini for 11, caught by Cox, and Ben Foakes, lbw for one.

Jack Shantry trapped James Foster lbw for one run from 17 balls, before Ajmal struck again — claiming the scalp of debutant Jesse Ryder for 45.

Charles Morris accounted for Oliver Newby, caught Ajmal for no score, before Ajmal ended the innings by clean bowling Graham Napier, who made 37 from 48 balls.

Essex’s 203 left Worcestershire with an 88-run first innings lead, but the wickets kept falling once the hosts were back at the crease.


Matt Salisbury took 3-42 and celebrates capturing the wicket of Matthew Pardoe with skipper James Foster. Picture: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Mathew Pardoe walked for a duck with Worcester one down without score, Matt Salisbury claiming the lbw dismissal. Panesar removed Tom Kohler-Cadmore, again lbw, for three.

Salisbury then had Tom Fell stumped by James Foster for 14, before unseating Alexei Kervezee without score.

Daryl Mitchell, who made 97 in Worcestershire’s first innings, was removed by Panesar, lbw for 38, with the score 58-5.

Ben Cox made seven before being bowled by Panesar, and Ryder claimed his first wicket by sending Ross Whiteley back to the clubhouse, caught by Foster for 10. In the final act of the day, Panesar skittled Shantry for 11 from 40 balls.

  • Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara will be helping to answer stand-in captain Eoin Young’s call to arms tomorrow when England take on Sri Lanka.

Young sees the T20 match as a chance to atone for England’s limited overs defeat in Australia and elimination from the World Twenty20 at the Super 10 stage.

“To repay a little bit of what happened in the winter, I think a win would go a long way tomorrow and start off our season properly,” said Young, who is deputising in captain Stuart Broad’s absence for the match at The Oval.