Cricket: Essex step off gas

Gloucestershire 290 & 64-3 Essex 310 Match drawn
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The Independent Online
If Cricket is going to compete for the sponsors' shilling and the attention of the nation's youth, it can ill-afford too many days like this one.

The captains were unable to agree on a reasonable target with Essex very reluctant to chase anything above three runs per over. A batting line- up as strong as Essex's deserves more faith, and although the wicket wasn't conducive to aggressive strokeplay, it was low, slow and taking some spin, and Essex should really have attempted to win the game.

As it was, the entire day lacked edge and after Stuart Law departed for 84, caught at mid-off after skying an attempted big hit off the left-arm spin of Richard Davis, there was very little for the crowd to get excited about.

Paul Grayson compiled a pleasant 81 before being smartly stumped down the legside by Jack Russell off the bowling of Mark Alleyne.

Russell has had a big game. His tidy glovework - he also dived to collect a Rob Cunliffe throw to run out the unlucky Barry Hyam - and his 91 not out must have caught the eye of the England selector Graham Gooch.

Danny Law struck the ball sweetly for a brisk 24 before advancing down the pitch too rapidly to Davis. He has a languid swing of the bat which belies his power. One straight six off Davis appearing almost effortless.

Essex were finally dismissed for 310 after being carried to the third batting bonus point by some lusty blows by Ashley Cowan.

Gloucestershire batted out time for the draw in their second innings, but Cunliffe registered a pair when Ilott had him palpably leg before.

Essex's lack of adventure consigned the game to a boring draw and the last rites were read at 5.30 with Gloucesterhire 64 for 3.