Essex enhanced their credentials as genuine title contenders by beating Nottinghamshire in the Specsavers County Championship meeting at Trent Bridge.
The 2017 Division One champions were made to wait until after lunch on the final day before picking up the remaining five wickets they needed to complete a resounding victory by an innings and 123 runs.
Notts had resumed on 100 for five but were bowled out for 183, despite debutant Ravi Ashwin holding them up for 100 minutes before being last out for 35
Simon Harmer bowled 40 overs in the innings – 22 in succession on the final day – in taking four for 35 as Ryan ten Doeschate’s side swept to their fifth win in seven matches.
Resuming from their overnight score of 100 for five, the home county offered stubborn resistance throughout the first 45 minutes but then lost the important wickets of Ben Duckett, for 39, and Luke Fletcher, who made 11.
Both fell to the wiles of South African spinner Harmer, now the country’s leading wicket-taker with 49 in the championship.
He had Duckett caught behind for 39, feathering an attempted cut – and then removed Fletcher, who was undone by gentle turn out of the rough when pushing forward defensively.
The normally prolific Tom Moores registered two singles from the first 50 balls he faced but then fell during an eventful over from Aaron Beard.
Moores stroked three boundaries but then unluckily chopped on to his middle stump for 14.
Ashwin and Stuart Broad extended the contest into the afternoon session but the second new ball finally extinguished Nottinghamshire hopes.
Harmer, continuing to wheel away from the Radcliffe Road end, was swept for four by Broad but gained immediate revenge with the ninth lbw decision of the match.
The end came when Ashwin tried to heave Jamie Porter over deep midwicket but found the hands of Peter Siddle just inside the fence.
Stretching back to last June’s victory over Essex at Chelmsford, the loss means Nottinghamshire have now gone 15 championship matches without a victory.
They face another side with title aspirations next, with a trip to Taunton to face leaders Somerset on Sunday, whilst second-placed Essex will look to continue their winning streak when they host Yorkshire on the same day.
A Notts Outlaws squad brimming with international talent will commence their T20 Vitality Blast campaign against Worcestershire Rapids at Trent Bridge on Thursday 18 July, with adult tickets priced at £10. Secure your seats…