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Pink ball poses questions for Essex and Middlesex

PUBLISHED: 10:30 27 June 2017

Mohammad Amir in bowling action for Essex against Middlesex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Mohammad Amir in bowling action for Essex against Middlesex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Bowlers surprised by performance in day/night contest

Essex’s Simon Harmer revealed the pink ball took some getting used to on day one of their Specsavers County Championship clash with defending champions Middlesex at Chelmsford.

The South African off-spinner finished with 5-77 as the visitors, reduced to 2-2 by Mohammad Amir and Jamie Porter, were eventually dismissed for 246.

Paul Stirling (77), Stevie Eskinazi (66) and stand-in captain Dawid Malan (60) scored the bulk of the runs for Middlesex and Harmer said: “The seam is a little bit different. It didn’t spin or turn as consistently as I thought it would, which maybe played to my advantage.

“There was a lot of bounce with the pink ball and it comes off the bat a lot better. All the bowlers felt there was extra bounce with it. We could have done better with the new ball, but it’s going to take time to adjust to the pink ball.”

After their early success with the new ball, Amir (2-53) and Porter (2-58) went on to clami another scalp apiece, while Harmer ended up with another five-wicket haul.

But he admitted: “If I hadn’t dropped Stirling, Mohammad would have cleaned up the tail pretty quickly. He was in a nice rhythm. Five wickets went into my column that probably should have been his. But I am sure he will clean up in the second innings.

“I didn’t get a hand to it, it hit me in the chest. I pride myself on my fielding and catching and it was very frustrating. After that Stirling really started to tee off and started to take it away from us.

“I felt I was staring down the barrel of 150 from him from not too many balls. He was looking to be aggressive towards me and hit me out of the attack. I just tried to do the right things and put the ball in the right areas.”

Essex reached 106-0 at the close, with Alastair Cook unbeaten on 64 and Nick Browne 40 not out.

The Middlesex attack will look to make inroads when play restarts on Tuesday afternoon and Stirling said: “We expected it to swing for a lot longer than it did and, from what we’ve practised with and what the lads have experienced in the Abu Dhabi pink ball games, we thought it would have done a lot more towards the end of the day as well, but it’s done less than we thought.

“Harmer has been bowling well so he was going to be tricky on a pretty dry pitch. Combating him was going to be one of the tougher asks nd we didn’t quite get it right against him.

“He was getting a lot of bounce especially from the first end he bowled from [the River End] where he got two of his wickets. It was slightly uphill so adds a bit for him. When he gets a few revs on the ball you feel it can turn. He got a few to go and bowled well.

“We’d discussed it as a team to play it more off the back foot, but I don’t think it was the bounce that got the wickets. [It was] a few bad shots, myself included. I should have gone on and helped us bat about 25 more overs, which we needed to do and have less of a go at them.”

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