ESSEX leg spinner Matt Critchley says they kept the pressure on leaders Surrey with their comprehensive win over Middlesex.

Overseas pair Simon Harmer and Umesh Yadav teamed up to share eight wickets and bowl their side to their sixth successive win in the LV= Insurance County Championship.

South African off-spinner Harmer returned figures of five for 43 to pass 50 wickets for the sixth time in seven English seasons as Middlesex were beaten by 297 runs.

Indian debutant Yadav, meanwhile, opened his Essex account by steaming in from the Hayes Close End and taking three wickets in a devastating eight-over spell either side of tea.

Set a nominal 445 in a possible four-and-a-half sessions, relegation-threatened Middlesex collapsed to 55 for five before sinking to 147 all out.

It left Essex 18 points adrift of Surre,y with two games to play.

Essex leg-spinner Critchley said: “That’s six wins on the bounce now to keep the pressure on Surrey.

"We are playing some good cricket and that’s probably as good as we’ve played on a wicket that was spinning, we got over 300 twice.

"‘Ports’ (Jamie Porter) bowled beautifully in the first innings and Harmy did the same in the second and overall, it was as good as a performance that you could have hoped for.

“Yadav bowled really well, to get wickets on a flat wicket and look as if he could get two or three wickets an over was very impressive. He’s obviously an international performer and to come in and have that impact shows his quality.

"That four-man attack with him and Simon Harmer, Jamie Porter and Sam Cook, the way they bowled in this match was probably as good as you are going to get in this country. It’s a helluva attack to face.

“We’ve got two more games to go and hopefully, we can keep our winning run going.

“I’m pleased with my bowling, I broke into the team at Derbyshire as an 18 or 19 year-old as a leggie and then was pretty much their first spinner throughout most of my career there. Obviously since moving to Essex, when you are behind someone like Harmer, you might not get as much of a bowl as you would like sometimes.

“But one of the reasons that I moved to a good team like this was that you get opportunities to bowl and get a few wickets and help win the game in the fourth innings.

“Overall, it’s been a pretty successful season for us so far but we want to go on and win the championship title. There were a few results earlier in the season when the rain didn’t quite help us out so that was a little disappointing but we’ll be trying to do all we can in the last two games.

“We can only do what we can do, win our last couple of games and hope that somewhere along the line, results go our way. If they don’t, well far play to Surrey but we’ve both a helluva lot of games.”

Sir Alastair Cook had laid the foundations for Essex’s 319 for seven with a phlegmatic 84 from 178 balls before Critchley’s belligerent run-a-ball 65 hastened the declaration an hour after lunch.

Middlesex off-spinner Josh de Caires added two second-innings wickets to post the first ten-wicket match haul of his embryonic career at a personal cost of 190.