Masters takes eight as Foxes skittled for 34

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The Independent Online

Essex revived their hopes of a quick return to the First Division of the Championship when they thrashed Leicestershire for the second time in less than three weeks, dismissing the Midlands county for just 34 at Southend. It is Leicestershire's lowest all-out total since Glamorgan bowled them out for 33 at Ebbw Vale in 1965 and equals their seventh lowest of all time.

Seamer David Masters, who spent five seasons with Leicestershire before joining Essex in 2008, finished with career-best figures of 8 for 10 from 7.4 overs .

Essex, who beat Leicestershire by 250 runs at Grace Road earlier this month, won by 284 runs to go fourth. It is the second time this season that bottom-of-the-table Leicestershire have been dismissed for less than 50, collapsing to 48 all out against Northamptonshire at Grace Road last month. Earlier, Ravi Bopara had swung the match in Essex's favour with a masterful 178, a timely return to his best ahead of his latest chance to impress the national selectors when England Lions meet Sri Lanka A at Scarborough next week.

Bopara showed the technique to prosper on a difficult pitch on which the majority of batsmen had struggled, as was demonstrated when Essex lost two wickets in the first three overs yesterday to be 185 for 6, a lead of only 127.

Masters took four wickets for two runs with his first 24 deliveries, with three in one over, including James Taylor and White with consecutive balls. His next four also came in the space of 24 balls, in which he was on a hat-trick for a second time as the end of Josh Cobb was followed by a first-ball exit for Jigar Naik.

Steven Finn took 3 for 51 for Middlesex against Derbyshire after being released by England.