Warwickshire 283 & 90-8 trail Essex 541-9d by 168 runs
Simon Harmer blasted through the Warwickshire batting before lunch at Chelmsford to take the first 12-wicket haul of his career and put Essex on the brink of a fourth Specsavers County Championship win of the season.
Harmer, who took six for 92 in the first innings, went to the interval with six more at a personal cost of 34 runs. The South African had taken the last five wickets to fall as Warwickshire collapsed alarmingly and faced their fourth innings defeat of the season.
Warwickshire started the morning needing to reach 258 to make Essex bat again. They finished a session extended by 15 minutes on 90 for eight with the coach revving up for the return journey up the motorway.
Ian Bell was the first to go, the only wicket of the morning not to fall to Harmer. The Warwickshire captain had edged one just short of Alastair Cook at first slip before he got a thinner touch to the last ball of Neil Wagner’s over to give the diving James Foster the catch.
Harmer entered the fray after eight overs in the morning and with his sixth ball had Andrew Umeed moving back indecisively and falling lbw. Two Harmer balls later and Sam Hain’s attempt to check the sweep he planned resulted in him popping up a catch to Ryan ten Doeschate at short leg.
Harmer was as parsimonious as ever, though when he gave one a bit of width, Rikki Clarke drove crisply through the covers for four. With Tim Ambrose, Clarke put a brake on the Essex charge for 16 overs.
Harmer removed Clarke controversially to a ball that pitched well outside off-stump and turned to rap him on his pad. Clarke looked aghast at the decision; Ambrose threw his bat to the ground in frustration.
Next ball, Keith Barker tried to paddle the delivery away, got a top edge and was caught behind by Foster. Jeetan Patel took successive boundaries off Harmer before he became the latest lbw victim.
At lunch Harmer had bowled 15 overs in the morning and taken five wickets for 31 runs.