Wed, 23 Sep 2020

Feroze Khushi's maiden half-century lifts Essex

ESPNCricInfo
09 Aug 2020, 04:42 GMT+10

11:11 PM IST

Essex 253 for 7 (Khushi 66, Wheater 52) v Surrey

Feroze Khushi suggested Essex's production line is in no danger of slowing down as the academy product celebrated his maiden first-class half-century on an even opening day against Surrey.

Batsman Khushi was one of 10 homegrown talents in the Essex's Bob Willis Trophy side to face Surrey as he struck 66 on his second appearance for the county.

Adam Wheater, who along with Sam Cook was awarded his county cap before play, also reached fifty as Essex reached the close on 253 for seven.

Surrey, who picked seven homegrown players of their own in their XI, proved their youth was also prospering as debutant Gus Atkinson, James Taylor and Amar Virdi all claimed wickets.

Home skipper Tom Westley won the toss and elected to bat on a wicket which seemed identical to the one which produced a two-wicket thriller against Kent last week. That meant patient batting and accurate bowling was rewarded throughout the day.

Availability-plagued Surrey had enjoyed the better of the morning session as two teenagers saw county champions Essex slump to 49 for three.

Surrey have 14 players currently unavailable which forced them to add Sussex's Laurie Evans and Worcestershire bowler Adam Finch on loan for this match. Quick Atkinson was handed a debut, having been at the county since Under-12 level, and it took him just five overs to make his mark on the first team.

Nick Browne seemed to expect the ball to angle across him but was cramped as he squeezed the ball to Mark Stoneman at extra cover.

James Taylor wasn't offered a new contract at boyhood club Derbyshire last year, but their oversight has been to Surrey's benefit. The seamer didn't take a wicket in the defeat to Middlesex but scythed down Essex's top order in two successive deliveries.

Westley slashed outside off stump to nick behind to keeper Jamie Smith, the batsman distraught at his misjudgement. Varun Chopra then jabbed a beauty to Scott Borthwick at second slip to leave Essex 49 for 3.

Khushi joined his boyhood hero Sir Alastair Cook, who had provided a no-thrills backbone to the batting. Cook reached 42, having added 49 with Khushi, but edged Virdi to first slip Rikki Clarke to a ball which turned nicely out the rough - Virdi's third ball.

Khushi then took centre stage with patience mixed with a dabble of strokeplay - specifically picking up whenever Virdi found himself straying a tad short. Khushi made his debut last week, where he scored a vital 45 in the chase of 202, including 86 with Cook.

The 21-year-old had been given a life when he was put down by Will Jacks at gully on 16, but strode to an 84-ball fifty with a flick off his hips. But he saved the shots of the day until the next over when he twice whipped Taylor to the leg-side boundary.

Khushi departed in a tame fashion which betrayed the rest of his innings, when he placed straight into Ryan Patel's lap at midwicket off Virdi. Paul Walter, who replaced the injured Ryan ten Doeschate in the side, had put on 67 with Khushi and continued his work with Wheater. They added another 57 runs before Borthwick entered the attack and yorked the allrounder with his third ball.

Wheater was unassuming in his run-scoring, especially with a relentlessly precise bowling attack, but reached his half-century in 94 balls. The wicketkeeper has started the Bob Willis Trophy in fine form, following 37 and a match completing 26 not out.

He was dismissed attempting an extravagant cut off Clarke, which deflected to Evans at gully. Simon Harmer, Essex's only non-local, saw out the last seven overs of the day with Aaron Beard.

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