Charlesworth's 19-ball fifty in vain as Glos lose to Essex

30 May 2023

Robin Das continued his incredible breakthrough week with his maiden Vitality Blast half-century as Essex belatedly began their campaign with a three-wicket victory over Gloucestershire.

Das, the 21-year-old batter, struck a century on his first-class debut against Ireland on Friday before crashing a stylish 69 to help Essex towards a daunting 196 target.

That huge Gloucestershire score was in large part down to Ben Charlesworth’s brutal 19-ball fifty – the quickest for the county in T20s.

But Das, together with fellow homegrown Feroze Khushi’s 34 off 12 balls and Tom Westley’s street-wise 31 not out guided Essex to victory with five balls to spare,

Essex and Gloucestershire hadn’t bowled a ball at each other at the Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford since 2016 – following an incredible five washouts. Essex had also delayed the start of their Blast season due to the Ireland clash.

Former Eagles Grant Roelofson and Chris Dent got Gloucestershire off to a strong start in the powerplay – 61 for one – but the former feathering an edge behind saw them stall.

Miles Hammond and Dent fell in the following two overs, with Ollie Price bowled soon after, leaving the visitors on 80 for four just past the halfway point.

But after an unspectacular start, where he was dropped on 13 and had 20 off his first 13 balls, Charlesworth went into hyperdrive.

He took Matt Critchley for two consecutive sixes on the leg side before tearing into Sam Cook. Two fours through mid-on were followed by two maximums over deep square – one on the back foot, the other flicked off the front. It took him to his incredible half-century, only 92 T20 fifties have been quicker.

Next ball, Cook found the edge of his bat as Charlesworth went for 52 from just 20 deliveries.

James Bracey heaved his first ball for six – which made it 47 runs in 12 balls for Gloucestershire – but next ball he picked out long off, with Jack Taylor falling in the same Daniel Sams over.

If Essex thought the onslaught had ended with Charlesworth, Marchant de Lange got their necks craning again by helping himself to 18 off the penultimate over – including a run of four, six, six.

Danny Lamb, who arrived on a short-term loan from Lancashire before the match, crashed a four and a six off the last over to take Gloucestershire to an imposing, but not out of sight, 195 for seven.

Fast bowler De Lange had Adam Rossington caught at deep midwicket with his third ball but pulled out of his delivery stride before bowling another ball before walking out of proceedings.

Feroze Khushi had already pinged de Lange back over his head before repeating the trick twice off Tom Smith’s spin. But he fell to a stunning catch at short third as Essex blasted 72 for two in the powerplay.

Das showed his classy shot-making against Ireland but proved his outright power for a small man with 11 fours and sixes straight and over midwicket. His maiden T20 fifty came in 27 balls, although had earned a life when dropped on 38. He may not have even played had Michael Pepper not suffered a knock in a Second XI match.

The Eagles were well ahead of the rate but were pegged back when Critchley slogged to long on and Das top-edged a slog sweep.

Walter was bowled by Price, Sams chopped to short fine, Simon Harmer clubbed to long on, but Westley eased to the conclusion to condemn Gloucestershire to a third defeat in four.

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