David Masters has been reflecting on his remarkable match-winning figures of 8 for 10 as Leicestershire were shot out for 34 at Southend, and said it was “a day I’ll never forget”.
Masters’s incredible spell hurtled Essex to County Championship victory by 280 runs – his final figures were a barely-believable 7.4-2-10-8 against his former club – but he was still quick to praise the contribution of Ravi Bopara, who earlier in the day had hit a magnificent 178 to lead the Essex fightback from a significant first innings deficit.
The Leicestershire second innings lasted a mere 14.4 overs and the miserable score was Leicestershire’s lowest total in the competition since 1965, coming just six weeks after they were hustled out for 48 by Northants.
Masters admitted that it was day to savour. “It has been a fantastic day for me; it’s quite unbelievable really and certainly one that I will never forget,” he said. “The ball did seam about and it was a good pitch to bowl on but I’ve never experienced anything quite like that session of play.
“We thought that we would be able to win the game on the last day but, instead, we polished them off in just over an hour (72 minutes) which was unbelievable. It’s lovely to be playing in a match when you’ve bowled a side out for so few runs and achieving it with my best figures was brilliant.”
Masters started the destruction of the Leicestershire innings with his third ball of the innings, took three more in his fourth over and when he bagged another victim in his next over he had figures of 4.4-2-2-5. Two more lambs came to the slaughter in his next over before he removed Tom New to complete his demolition act and Masters admitted that particular dismissal was the most satisfying.
“The last wicket was the one that means more because that was the one that clinched victory for the team,” he added.
Masters, who left Grace Road at the end of the 2007 season, easily beat his previous career-best figures of 6 for 34, which came against Leicestershire in 2008, and his astonishing effort left the visitors with their seventh lowest first-class total in their 117-year history and their lowest against Essex.
Now 33, Masters recently became the first bowler in the country to reach the 50-wicket milestone in the County Championship this season. “That meant a lot to me, it shows I’m bowling okay and now I’m up to 60 wickets,” he said. “I don’t set myself any targets really but, hopefully, there’s a few more to come between now and the end of the season.”
Earlier, in what proved to be an incredible day’s play, Masters had scored 48 in a partnership worth 111 with Bopara, leaving Leicestershire needing 315 runs for victory.
“We never expected to win in such a comfortable fashion,” Masters admitted. “All credit to Ravi who set us up for the win with his brilliant innings, and I just got the ball in the right place when we bowled.”