Northants suffer first loss
Craddock has Division Two leaders in a spin at Chelmsford
Last Updated: 27/06/11 5:25pm
Masters: two wickets in Northamptonshire's second innings
Northamptonshire suffered their first defeat in this season's LV= County Championship as they went down by 171 runs to Essex.
The Division Two leaders were bowled out for 244 during the third day after being set a daunting target of 416 to win at Chelmsford.
Tom Craddock was the hero for the hosts, the leg-spinner claiming 4-70 on debut. There were also two wickets apiece for David Masters and Tom Westley, as Essex claimed their second four-day triumph of the summer.
Having resumed in the morning on 37-1, Northamptonshire made steady progress through Ben Howgego (41) and Rob White (43) before both batsmen fell in successive overs.
Alex Wakely and Andrew Hall also failed to make the most of encouraging starts, managing scores of 35 and 38 respectively, as the visitors slipped from 83-1 to 193-7.
Craddock - who has joined Essex on a two-month trial after impressing against them whilst playing for the Unicorns - claimed his first Championship wicket by bowling Hall, and then had Chaminda Vaas caught at deep mid-on.
The 21-year-old went on to remove tail-ender Lee Daggett, who was caught at short leg for one, before wrapping up the match when he tempted James Middlebrook to hit straight to Ryan ten Doeschate in the covers. Essex finished up with 19 points while their rivals had to settle for just three.
Adam Wheater's maiden century for Essex and the 15th of James Foster's first-class career left leaders Northamptonshire facing a daunting victory target of 416 in their Division Two match at Chelmsford.
After establishing a first-innings lead of 84, Essex amassed 331-9 declared in their second and then claimed a wicket before the close as the visitors reached 37-1 at stumps.
Wheater, aged 21, showed just why he is regarded as one of the county's most exciting prospects with a sublime innings of 164.
His partnership with captain Foster produced 253 in 44 overs, beating the previous county record for the sixth wicket by 47 runs, before Wheater hit a full toss from medium-paceman Jack Brooks to Andrew Hall at short mid-wicket.
Foster's superb effort of 103 came off 155 deliveries but was ended when he drove Brooks to Stephen Peters in the covers, at which point he declared.
Northamptonshire were put further on the back foot when, in the first over and without a run on the board, Peters was bowled by David Masters.
The visitors did manage to steer clear of further trouble before the close but it will need something spectacular on the third day if they are to preserve their unbeaten record.
Seventeen wickets fell with just 262 runs scored on the opening day of the County Championship clash between Essex and Northamptonshire at Chelmsford.
Batting first, Essex put on 183 in their first innings but then reduced the visitors to 79-7 in reply, to gain the upper hand over the Division Two leaders.
The hosts struggled to make early progress, left-arm quick Chaminda Vaas claiming 6-46 from 17 overs, including a 19-ball spell either side of lunch that brought four wickets for just seven runs.
Opener Tom Westley struck his third successive half-century, scoring a third of the home side's runs with 61 before he was caught behind off Vaas.
Only three other batsmen managed to reach double figures. Owais Shah made 26 before he too fell victim to Vaas.
And captain James Foster and David Masters made 30 and 31 respectively sharing an eighth-wicket stand of 60 in 13 overs to give the total an air of respectability.
Masters went on to take 4-23 from 18 overs in Northamptonshire's reply and at stumps the visitors found themselves still 104 runs adrift with just three wickets remaining.