Cricket: Efficient Garnham

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Durham. . . . . .483 and 84-2

Essex . . . . . .382

IT IS symptomatic of Essex's fitful season that they began yesterday in danger of following on against Durham, the season's fall guys. Thanks to Mike Garnham, who made his first Championship century since 1991, they escaped such an indignity and also secured maximum batting points.

A combative character, Garnham was at the crease for more than five hours before he was well caught by Anderson Cummins at extra cover as Essex, by now well out of the woods, sought quick runs. Efficiency, rather than charm or grace, was the defining characteristic of Garnham's innings, but it was no less valuable for all that.

For the first hour, when Garnham and Derek Pringle were together, Essex made untroubled progress. Pringle's contribution to a standard 87 was a frolic that made light of his side's position. He is having a good summer with the bat and soon found its middle. Successive boundaries off Simon Brown took Pringle to his half-century before he perished with an ill-conceived leg- side heave.

Thereafter, until Essex were safe, it was all Garnham's circumspection, punctuated by the occasional moment of adventure. The driven four that split the cover fieldsmen to take him past 50 was perhaps the pick of his eight boundaries.

After a period of stout resistance from Don Topley, the Durham seamers made short work of the tail. Brown, having been chiefly responsible for making the Australians follow on last week, finished with another five wickets, due reward for his perseverance.

Though they did not achieve their primary objective, Durham would at least have been pleased with a lead of 101. After an interruption by rain, they finished in a good position to set the last-day terms, which are likely to be demanding, as the pitch is benign.