Cricket: Donald hits landmark as Essex fold

Essex 178 Warwickshire 136-5
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The Independent Online
The batsmen on both sides found strange ways of getting themselves out at the County Ground, but it was much more a question of end-of-season weariness than anything untoward in the pitch and only Stuart Law passed 50.

On the first day, 69 overs were lost to rain, which claimed another 34.5 on the second, but even so considerable progress has been made. The main architect of Essex's dismissal of 178 was Allan Donald, who took 5 for 50 to lift his tally of wickets for Warwickshire in nine seasons to 501.

Bowling with an excellent rhythm he was always hostile, attacking the batsmen on and around the off stump and mostly keeping to a full length. His ability to use his fastest ball as an occasional weapon makes him particularly dangerous.

For a time it look as if he might meet his match in Law, although he went right through him with the last ball of his first over of the day. Law then produced one or two of those crisply decisive off drives, reaching his 50 from 67 balls. However, he drove at Ashley Giles when not quite to the pitch of the ball and was caught high up at the second attempt by Nick Knight at mid-off. The innings then fell apart and the last seven wickets went down for only 61 runs.

Warwickshire made a bad start themselves but were held together by Knight, who has been out of action for some time with a broken finger. After making a hundred against Worcestershire in his first match back, he got down to it again spurred on by the hope of convincing the selectors that he is worth taking to the West Indies. He was lbw, half-forward to Peter Such, two runs short of his fifty.

That tempestuous Nat-West semi-final against Glamorgan here lingers on. Prompted by the ECB, Essex issued a statement saying they had fined Stuart Law pounds 300 for swearing after being hit by a beamer from Darren Thomas. Ronnie Irani was severely warned for a similar offence when leaving the field after he had been dismissed.