By Neil Fissler
Paul Grayson admits that Essex thought that they had one hand on the NatWest trophy after restricting Lancashire to 186 all out at Lord’s.
But what was about to happen nobody could have predicted as cloud cover completely turned the game on its head and Essex were bowled out for just 57.
Essex had won the toss and decided to field, a decision that looked to be fully justified as only John Crawley – unbeaten on 66 – caused them any kind of problems.
Crawley should never have survived after being given not out when wrapped on the pads first ball, a decision that Grayson believes would be have been overturned by modern DRS.
“It was my first year at Essex and we played some good one-day cricket right throughout the competition, but Lancashire were a good one-day side,” he said.
“But we had a good side ourselves – Nasser Hussain, Ronnie Irani, Stuart Law, Paul Pritchard, Mark Ilott, Peter Such and Ashley Cowan and Graham Gooch played that game, so we had a good balance.
“And at halfway we felt very confident that we could chase those runs down. But we felt that there was one big decision in the game that went against us.
“And that was when David Shepherd gave John Crawley not out first ball when Mark Ilott trapped him in front, it would have hit middle, middle and leg comfortably. John played very well after that and enabled them to post a decent score. It was September, end of the season, and pitches at that time of the year can be a little bit spicy.
“We felt very comfortable at the break that we could chase those runs.
“I remember Keith Fletcher saying to me after I managed to burgle a couple of wickets at the end, ‘go and get yourself 50 or 60 not out and bat through, help us win the game and get yourself the Man of the Match award’.”
Then Glen Chapple took 6-18 with only Neil Williams and Ashley Cowan, who both scored 11, and Gooch, who took an hour to score 10, putting up any kind of resistance.
Grayson said: “I opened the batting with Gooch, the sun was out for the first three or four overs and the ball didn’t do very much and we felt in control of the situation.
“Then all of a sudden a bit of cloud cover came over and the ball started nipping around everywhere and they had a high-class attack that exploited those conditions.
“The next thing you know we are up against it and were 57 all out. It was just one of those unbelievable days and it was just something that we couldn’t stop.
“The way Glenn Chapple bowled was unbelievable. We just looked at ourselves in the dressing room knowing that there wasn’t an awful lot that we could do.
“There was no finger pointing. It was just one of those days, we just nicked everything and it was a freakish day. Someone was putting their pads on and someone was coming back in again. We always talk about momentum and we just couldn’t wrestle it back after losing two of three quick wickets,” he added.
BACK ROW (left-right):
James Davis (physio): Spent 12 seasons working with Essex and 25 years with the NHS. Is now running his own private practices in Chelmsford and Brentwood.
Robert Rollins: Wicketkeeper is now centre manager at the Angel Raynham Children’s Centre in Enfield, North London. His brother Adrian was also a professional cricketer.
Darren Robinson: Batsman who plays for Wickford in the Essex Premier League and has run a business delivering curry to France.
Ashley Cowan: Swing bowler is still based in Chelmsford running his own business dealing in industrial chemicals.
Paul Grayson: All-rounder was Essex’s head coach until September 2015 and is now coaching at Durham University. His brother Simon manages Preston North End.
Neil Williams: England fast bowler was a coach in St Vincent at the Academy for Kids. He died in March 2006 after suffering a stroke.
Jon Lewis: Batsman and occasional seamer who went on to captain Durham, where he now coaches.
FRONT ROW (l-r):
Peter Such: Off-spinner who played for England. Started his own coaching company and since 2012 has been the ECB’s national spin coach.
Stuart Law: One-cap Australian Test batsman who went into coaching with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh then Brisbane Heat and Queensland Bulls. Consultant to Australia and Bangladesh.
Graham Gooch: Prolific Test opening batsman in 118 Tests who became England captain. He worked in the media before becoming an England selector, batting coach and ‘mentor’ to Alastair Cook.
Paul Prichard: Former Essex captain is head of cricket at Paragon management and is a brand ambassador for Woodland Group, Prettys Solicitors and Wormsley Cricket.
Nasser Hussain: Batsman who played 96 Tests and captained England. Joined the Sky Sports commentary team as soon as he retired from cricket in 2004.
Mark Ilott: Left-arm England fast bowler who has settled in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, and works as a PE teacher at St Albans School where he is also in charge of football and cricket.
Ronnie Irani: England all-rounder still lives in Essex and went into broadcasting for Talksport. He is the co-inventor of a customised insole.
Steve Andrew: Seamer is now a consultant with De Villiers Chartered Surveyors where he was previously managing director.
John Childs: Left-arm England spinner who is now running the Essex Academy Stephen Peters: Batsman retired at the end of last season and is now a business development manager at Aon Risk solutions.
Andrew Hibbert: All-rounder is now living in Australia where he works as Compliance Manager at Prosperity Advisers Group.
Barry Hyam: Batsman is performance manager and coaches the second XI at the County Ground.
Tim Hodgson: Batsman now based in Australia where he is managing director of creative agency Ensemble
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Thursday December 24 2015