Head coach David Ripley admitted the Specsavers County Championship defeat against Essex at Chelmsford was “a very poor result” after Northamptonshire succumbed by an innings and 92 runs.

“The margin of defeat is crushing but there was a bit more to the game than the stark statistics,” Ripley explained.

“We bowled a lot better on the first day than the scoreboard suggests and we beat the bat a lot.  But we were perhaps a fraction short so maybe didn’t get the edges we deserved.

“On another day, a couple of early nicks – and of course not dropping Alastair Cook on three – and it could have been different.  But to get knocked over like we did in our first innings left us a mountain to climb to save the game.

“That’s the most disappointing factor of the three days – and there were only three days. It’s a very poor result and we can’t hide behind that.”

Essex wasted little time picking up the six Northamptonshire wickets they needed on the final day to secure their win, the end coming just 17 balls after the lunch break.  The result gave Essex 23 points, while Northamptonshire headed home with just one.

Facing a race against the forecast rain, Essex got their day off to a flying start as Jamie Porter picked up his eighth wicket of the match – and 22nd of the season – making a delivery rear at Richard Levi, who fended to point where Dan Lawrence took a fine catch in the third over of the day.

This brought in Adam Rossington, who made an unbeaten 67 and was Northants’ main source of resistance on the third day.  In the company of nightwatchman Muhammad Azharullah, Rossington dug in once more, sharing 21 in 17 overs until Ryan ten Doeschate, the fifth bowler used by Essex, pinned him leg-before playing back.

At the other end, Azharullah had lived a rather charmed life, edging just short of Cook at first slip in the first over of the day, and later had another fall just short of fourth slip. Between times, when Azharullah was on 6, James Foster shelled a tough chance diving one-handed to his right off the same bowler.

David Murphy came and went, playing a beautiful straight drive, then almost being caught and bowled, and slapping straight to mid-on, all in a single ten Doeschate over. With the last ball of his next, the Essex captain ended Azharullah’s resistance as he was adjudged LBW.

With Rory Kleinveldt and Richard Gleeson defending stoically – and peppering the third man boundary – Essex extended the session by 15 minutes in pursuit of the final two wickets. After 12 of those minutes – and a couple more loud LBW appeals, the players left the field as a passing shower struck.

The win, which was set up by half-centuries for each of Essex’s top five across the rain-ravaged first two days, was secured almost immediately after the break. Gleeson miscued ten Doeschate straight to fine-leg 14 balls after lunch, and while Kleinveldt hammered him down the ground for four next ball, Napier returned to finish the job, castling Ben Sanderson with a perfect yorker second ball to secure Essex’s place atop the Division Two going into the fourth round of matches.