Cricket: Fluent Gallian takes command

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The Independent Online
Essex 216; Lancashire 264-4

JASON GALLIAN filled his sails with a breezy 98 here yesterday, and his Test ambitions appear eminently seaworthy.

Lancashire recently took the unusual step of announcing that Gallian, a former captain of Young Australia who became eligible to play for his adopted country at the start of this, his first season at Old Trafford, would be remaining with the county.

Given that his father is Mike Gatting's business partner and Desmond Haynes is likely to be touring here with the West Indies next summer, Middlesex's search for a replacement opener had stoked all manner of rumours. Yesterday's commanding display amplified why the 23-year-old's employers were so keen to dispel them.

Gallian demonstrated his assiduousness with an eight-hour century against Derbyshire last month. Here, conversely, the strokes fairly purred, the house specialities a whip through midwicket and a fluid square drive. After accounting for most of a 144- run opening alliance with Steve Titchard, he was desperately unlucky to expire two short of a third Championship century, drilling Peter Such to short midwicket where John Stephenson soared for a superlative catch.

This, though, was an isolated moment of fortune for Essex. Titchard eventually perished after four hours, bowled advancing to the persistent Such, whereupon that impish improviser, Neil Fairbrother, duly pushed Lancashire into the lead, then survived a none-too-difficult stumping chance to cap an unhappy day for the hosts.

Mike Garnham was the culprit, emphasising the view that the gutsy wicketkeeper had been overly hasty in returning to his post after leaving the field with blurred vision, a legacy of the cut left eye from Peter Martin during his innings on Thursday. Garnham had none the less played a manful role in earning his side an unlikely batting point, hooking fearlessly when sense dictated such impulses be resisted.

Mind you, John Childs did outscore him during their last-wicket liaison of 46, so he could not have been seeing the ball all that well.