Cricket: Essex's frustration

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The Independent Online
Worcs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .448-6 dec and 186-5 dec

Essex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .300-5 dec and 0-0

Match drawn

IT WAS fatal mentioning that five of the last six matches played here had finished around lunch on the last day. You can now make that six out of seven, Essex emerging at 2.20 needing 335 to win off a minimum of 54 overs, were immediately forced to beat a retreat as the rain clouds rolled in. There were then two more visits to the wicket, each just as frustrating.

John Stephenson and Paul Prichard, though, had a nice little nought not out put against their names in the averages. While neither faced a ball, it was one of cricket's oddities that stepping on the field of play at this stage of a game constitutes an innings. You learn something every day and the learning process so far as Essex were concerned is that their hosts were prepared to give them nowt.

Essex, way out in front in the Championship, had arrived hotfoot from Southend with the scalps of Gloucestershire and Sussex dangling provocatively from their belt, and Worcestershire were obviously not keen on the idea of adding to the collection. The target said it all and the weather then put paid to any sort of miracle that Essex might have been able to conjure up.

The champions will have to content themselves for the time being with seven wins from their 14 outings that includes the five-point haul in bonus points here. And so to yesterday's brief action, which began ominously after the loss of nine overs thanks to the weather.

The initial contest was of a serious nature, but with Worcestershire four down for 92 at lunch and dining on a lead of 240, Essex decided to jolly things along a bit on the resumption. So Nasser Hussain and Prichard sent down nine overs of dob between them which were dispatched for another 92 runs. This enabled Stuart Lampitt and Steve Rhodes to register a three-figure partnership for the fifth wicket and to complete half-centuries. Good for the averages, of course, if nothing else.

Glamorgan, set a target of 251 from 65 overs, denied Yorkshire victory when their last pair of Adrian Dale and Mark Frost survived 24 balls.

Lancashire held on to a draw against Sussex at Hove thanks to an undefeated 52 by Peter Martin. Lancashire, set 296 to win, were 233 for 9 with two overs left.