ALL-ROUNDER Lyndon James took a career-best four for 51 as Nottinghamshire crushed champions Essex by an innings and 30 runs before lunch on the final day of their County Championship match at Trent Bridge, despite Saturday’s wash-out.

The 22-year-old medium pace bowler, who dismissed former England captain Sir Alastair Cook on Friday, delivered a decisive burst of three wickets in the space of 14 balls as Essex, still 95 behind at 129 for three overnight, collapsed to 194 all out, effectively beaten inside seven sessions.

James, in only his seventh first-class match, also made 51 with the bat, his 123-run partnership with centurion Steven Mullaney the key to a 224-run first-innings lead for Nottinghamshire after Luke Fletcher’s career-best six for 24.

Unbeaten on 60 at Friday’s close, Nick Browne looked like Essex’s best chance of a fightback but had added only four more when Fletcher had him caught behind, and after a double-wicket maiden from James accounted for Ryan Ten Doeschate and Tom Westley, Essex lost their last six wickets for 29 as Nottinghamshire jumped to the top of the Group One table with a second consecutive win.

Fletcher dealt Essex a major blow by removing Browne in the fifth over of the day, the left-hander pushing at a ball that left him late.

When James took over at the Radcliffe Road, he soon had Ten Doeschate leg before to a full, straight delivery and followed up with a beauty two balls later to send Westley’s off stump cartwheeling.

South African Dane Paterson, who took three for 41, had Harmer lbw before James ended a brief counter-attack by Paul Walter as Ben Duckett took a sharp catch at second slip.

James was denied a maiden five-wicket haul when third slip Haseeb Hameed dropped Peter Siddle on nought in the same over, but will nonetheless remember this match as fondly as his debut against Essex in 2018, when he took three wickets in his maiden first-class spell.

Siddle was soon taken at second slip off Paterson and when Fletcher returned in place of James he needed only two balls to have Jamie Porter caught behind to finish the job.

It meant the County Championship and Bob Willis Trophy holders have lost two of their last three matches, leaving them with work to do in the second half of their Group One programme if they are to be in a position to defend their titles in September.