Essex, who face England in a pre-Ashes warm-up fixture at the end of the month, suffered the most humiliating day in their 137-year history as they were bowled out for just 20 by Lancashire at Chelmsford.
It is the sixth-lowest total in the history of the Championship, the lowest by any side against Lancashire and the lowest in all first-class cricket since Surrey were dismissed for 14 by Essex on the same ground in 1983. Essex’s own previous low point was their 1901 surrender for 30 against Yorkshire at Leyton.
Lancashire won by an innings and 105 runs, having claimed a lead of 125 when they were bowled out for 398 in their first innings, before reducing Essex to 5 for 3 and then 15 for 8 in their Second Division match.
The Lancashire captain, Glen Chapple, finished with 5 for 9 and fellow strike bowler Kyle Hogg 4 for 11. Both had made half-centuries with the bat, so Essex could hardly blame the pitch for subsiding in only 14.2 overs. Six batsmen were out without scoring, there were six lbw decisions and one batsman bowled.
Essex have won two of their eight matches and could have moved into third place in the Second Division had they beaten Lancashire but have mixed good moments with several poor performances.
Their head coach, Paul Grayson, has issued one apology already this season to county members, following an innings defeat at Northamptonshire that he described as “shambolic”. This time he was almost lost for words. “I don’t know what to say, to be honest, because I’m still in a state of shock,” he said. “Nothing has been said in the dressing room because now is not the right time but we are all coming in tomorrow for a chat and we’ll reflect and analyse then what happened.
“Emotions are running very high at the moment as you can imagine, there’s not a lot of singing and dancing going on. As I say, I’m lost for words. It was a good wicket, probably one of the best all year that we could have batted on at Chelmsford but 20 all out, it’s amazing.’’
Lancashire’s victory keeps them in second place in the table, 33 points behind the leaders Northamptonshire, whom they face at Old Trafford next Thursday.