Essex set for training-ground punishment from Porter after batting collapse leads to Quarantine Cup defeat by Northamptonshire

Adelaide Oval: Essex 16, Northamptonshire 18-3 – Northamptonshire won by 2 wickets

Essex coach Jamie Porter said he would be calling his players in for “naughty-boy fitness” sessions as punishment after his side collapsed with the bat in their defeat by Northamptonshire.

The Eagles’ Quarantine Cup hopes hang by a thread after finding themselves bowled out for just 16 at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon, and must now win their final match, scoring a plethora of boundaries in the process, and hope a series of results goes in their favour, if they are to reach the last four.

The dismal performance at the crease follows a trend for Porter and his team in this year’s competition.

For Northamptonshire, the path to the semi-finals has become a little less treacherous. Ricardo Vasconcelos’s men will likely need to win both of their remaining fixtures, but they can at least rely on some momentum to get them through.

For Essex, however, an early morning sprint around Chelmsford looks to be in order.

Northamptonshire, bowling first after making the long trip to Adelaide overnight and somehow sneaking beyond security at the closed Australian border, made an early breakthough when Nathan Buck had Varun Chopra caught in the ring third ball.

Essex failed to make a run off the bat in Buck’s over, effectively reducing their innings to four overs, and though Cameron Delport launched his first delivery for six back over Ben Sanderson’s head, he was soon on his way back to the pavilion.

Sanderson produced a remarkable 95mph inswinging yorker – quite possibly the one and only time in his career that the Northamptonshire seamer has reached such speed – to send Delport’s leg stump cartwheeling towards the boundary like a young Olga Korbut.

Things went from bad to much, much worse the very next ball for Essex, as Moises Henriques leathered a gorgeous chip through the legside, only to look up to his horror to see Blessing Muzarabani celebrating taking an absurd catch on the boundary.

At 7 for 3 from two overs, there was more writing on the wall than a Graffiti Artists Anonymous meeting.

Muzarabani added a wicket to his excellent catch, drawing Dan Lawrence into a hook which only reached Richard Levi at fine leg, and looked for all the world as if he cleaned up the Essex innings when he pinned Ryan ten Doeschate on the back pad in front of middle stump.

Neither the standing umpire nor the TV official were convinced, however, and a lack of Hawkeye technology gave Northamptonshire minimal recourse.

Still, the reprieve only helped Essex add six more runs – all off the bat of Ten Doeschate from a single blow against Muzarabani – and the innings came to an abrupt end when Faheem Ashraf had Westley lbw for 1. Essex had failed to use a third of their allocated overs – the equivalent of being rolled with 17 overs of a 50-over contest remaining.

Northamptonshire would have hoped to have sauntered to their target, and for a while they did as they reached 12 without loss, but in the end they fell over the line struggling and wheezing like an ageing hobbit.

Adam Zampa, powered by an outrageous ponytail, clean bowled Vasconcelos as he marched down the wicket and tried to deposit the Australian over long-on; Simon Harmer struck with his first delivery, as Levi chipped a catch to midwicket; and Keiron Pollard picked out midwicket with four runs still required.

For the briefest of moments, Essex had a sliver of a chance, but Adam Rossington soon clipped Harmer to the legside fence to secure victory with two overs to spare.

Now, for both teams, the biggest quandary of the lot: how to get out of Australia without anyone noticing?

Porter said afterwards: “I’ve had a few people out of nick, it’s not quite clicking at the moment.

“(At the interval) I read out some of their stats, to give them a reality check. I think the highest individual score from one of them in the competition is 14, it’s not good enough.

“There’ll be some naughty-boy fitness fielding to follow.”

The triumphant Vasconcelos said: “I thought I would get there in the end; it was a bit closer than I would have hoped but chasing a low score settled nerves a little bit.

“Maybe there was some over-eagerness, trying to go a bit too aggressive. We could have been a bit more relaxed and calm about it but there’s no fun in that.”