GEORGE Balderson claimed a hat-trick to wreck Essex hopes as Lancashire claimed a 38-run win in an incredible match at Chelmsford that spanned just a little over four sessions, writes MARTIN SMITH.

The pace bowler finished with 5-14 from seven overs supported by Will Williams (4-24) as Essex lost their lost nine wickets for 35 runs in pursuit of 98 to win.

Only two Essex batters reached double figures against the telling and incisive bowling of the Lancashire duo helping their side to 19 points whilst Essex were left with a paltry three after a dramatic Championship clash.

Essex all-rounder Shane Snater had mixed emotions.

Despite finishing on the losing side, he celebrated a breakthrough season for Essex by being awarded his county cap during the lunch interval.

“You win some and you lose some but that’s cricket,” he said.

“It was a good performance from the bowlers all-round.

“I thought the pitch was alright, obviously it was doing a bit but nothing out of the ordinary. Obviously with the early start and under the lights, the ball is going to do a lot more than it normally does.

“Early on in my career here, I struggled a bit but the coaches trusted in me. To now be awarded my cap is such a privilege and such an honour. It is the highlight of my season.

!I’ve really enjoyed the season, it would have been nice to finish at Chelmsford with the win and to have been challenging for the Championship title.

“We still have one more match this year but hopefully next season, we can come back stronger.”

The demons of the previous day, when 26 wickets fell, continued to manifest themselves.

Lancashire had resumed their second innings on 25 for six and lost another 20 balls into the morning play.

Debutant George Bell had looked settled while moving on to 24, the equal highest score by a Lancashire player in the match.

However, his 28-ball knock ended when he was bowled around his legs by Snater to reduce Lancashire to 34 for seven.

Snater had taken 5-6 in 4.2 overs at that stage.

The two Toms, Bailey and Hartley, both hit successive boundaries in an uncharacteristically wayward over from Sam Cook that cost 17 runs.

Bailey then threw the bat to the first ball of the next over only to pick out Lawrence on the long-leg boundary and hand Snater his sixth wicket and incredible figures of 6 for 10..

Cook gained a measure of personal satisfaction when Hartley attempted an upper-cut to a short ball and only succeeded in edging behind. It was Cook’s 200th first-class wicket for Essex.

The Netherlands international struck again before the innings concluded to finish with the incredible return of 6 -10 from eight overs.

Simon Harmer had the last word when he struck Matt Parkinson full on the front pad to end the visitors’ second innings inside 24 overs for a paltry 73.

All-rounder Snater, Essex’s player of the year was rewarded for a breakthrough season with his county cap during the lunch interval.

With the floodlights on throughout the day, the home side, seeking a third successive Championship victory in September, set out on the task of reaching a modest 98 runs for victory but on this pitch, a tortuous task.

Sir Alastair Cook and Nick Browne made a comparatively serene start to the chase, and had 24 on the board in seven overs to ease the nerves of the home camp when Browne was trapped lbw by Bailey.

But Balderson;s introduction sent panic waves through the home camp.

With his second delivery he had Cook beaten all ends up by one that ducked in and dislodged his leg bail.

His next ball had Dan Lawrence chipping carelessly to Will Williams at midwicket before the bowler breached Matt Critchley’s defences to claim his hat-trick.

Lunch arrived soon afterwards with Balderson feasting on figures of 2-2-0-3, while Essex tottered on 34 for four.

The latest sacrificial lamb on a wicket denounced as unplayable by Lancashire head coach Glen Chapple was Feroze Khushi, bowled by Will Williams for a single as Essex tottered further to 35 for 5.

Adam Rossington opted for aggression and collected two boundaries before Balderson wiped him out and with the score on 55, Essex lost their seventh and eight wicket, both to Williams.

During all the carnage, skipper Tom Westley had stood firm but he finally succumbed for 13 having survived 41 balls when he was caught to become a fifth wicket for Balderson.

Williams rounded off proceedings when he bowled Sam Cook to leave Lancashire celebrating victory in match in which the four innings produced just 370 runs.