Essex (cricket)

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Cricket probably reached the county of Essex by about the beginning of the seventeenth century. The first definite mention of cricket in the county is not until 1724 and concerns the controversial match between a team from Chingford and that of the Kent patron Edwin Stead. The Chingford team withdrew from the match in an attempt to have it declared null and void so that they would not lose their stake money (cricket was dominated by gambling through the eighteenth century). A court case followed and the teams were ordered to play the match out to a finish. The revival, in 1726, took place at Dartford Brent, in Kent, but it is not clear if that was the original venue.

In July 1732, a team called Essex & Hertfordshire played against London and, in July 1737, Essex as a sole county played London at the Artillery Ground, losing by 45 runs. In a return match at Ilford on 1 August, however, Essex won by 7 runs. Occasional references to Essex are found through the century until 1785 when the Hornchurch Cricket Club became a frequent match organiser. Hornchurch raised county teams of first-class standard until 1794 but then, quite abruptly, both Hornchurch and Essex disappear from the sources.

The modern Essex County Cricket Club (Essex CCC) was founded on 14 January 1876 at a meeting in the Shire Hall, Chelmsford. The county club were rated second-class (a minor county) until 1894 when they played against Leicestershire, the initial first-class match played by both clubs. In 1895, Essex were one of five expansion teams admitted to the official County Cricket Championship (founded in 1890).

Essex has used several grounds around the county for its home matches but the main one is the County Cricket Ground, Chelmsford. It was not until the 1970s that Essex were able to seriously challenge for honours but since then they have won the County Championship eight times, most recently in 2019. They have also won ten limited overs tournaments and one Twenty20 Cup. The most famous Essex players have been Johnny Douglas, Trevor Bailey and Graham Gooch. Other noted players include batsmen Keith Fletcher, Nasser Hussain and Alastair Cook who all captained England. The county's best bowlers include Ken Farnes, Peter Smith and John Lever.