Cricket: Gooch wades into the records

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Derbyshire 226 and 309

Essex 96 and 442-6

Essex win by 4 wickets

ESSEX scored 440 by 2.23 on a grey afternoon here to complete one of the most remarkable recoveries in the history of the Championship. Graham Gooch, allegedly putting his feet up and leaving Paul Prichard in charge, and batting at No 6, scored the 98th century of his career yet the first on this ground. It was the highest fourth-innings score by Essex and the highest second-innings score against Derbyshire.

All these wonderful statistics are qualified by the fact that this was a four-day match. They probably herald a host of county cricket records to fall next year when all Championship matches will be played over four days.

Nevertheless this result remains a magnificent performance by the champions who, the pennant won and dismissed for 96 on Monday, might have felt that they had done enough for 1992 and let the game slide. At 85 for 3 on Wednesday they looked beaten but two remorseless innings by John Stephenson and Gooch brought them a very proud and polished finale.

The climate remained cloudy but the wind was kinder and Derbyshire were offered only two fleeting glimpses of a breakthrough in 28 overs. It was only in the first hour on the two previous mornings that there had been any suggestion of help from the pitch. Gooch, when 49, edged past Chris Adams's diving hand at slip by no more than an inch; when 53 he survived what looked to be a well-judged appeal for lbw from Ian Bishop.

Mike Garnham, who had been picking his shots so successfully he was creeping up on his partner, had added 39, making the stand worth 129, when Alan Warner pinned him leg-before with another low break-back.

Another 82 were needed with four wickets standing but Derek Pringle is a reassuring figure in such circumstances, knowing that all he needed to do was keep his end up and let the holiday-maker at the other end finish the job.

Derbyshire were to suffer in this war of attrition; they already had Bishop carrying leg strains and, mid-morning, Dominic Cork limped off, Adams being called up before Kim Barnett and Warner made the last unavailing effort.

Gooch's 123 not out was made off 298 balls, took six and a quarter hours and contained 12 fours. The few hundred spectators here rightly gave him a standing ovation; not everyone can relax this way.

Career-best bowling of 5 for 79 by the 17-year-old Glamorgan paceman, Darren Thomas, paved the way for an 86-run victory over Kent at Canterbury. Thomas had an opening spell of 3 for 22 in eight overs as Kent fell to 189 for 8 with little chance of the victory they needed to secure the runners-up spot in the Championship.

An unbeaten 95 by Keith Brown helped save Middlesex from an innings defeat against Warwickshire at Lord's. By the close of the third day, Middlesex had reached 305 for 6 - a lead of 30.

Worcestershire have signed the West Indian paceman, Ken Benjamin, 25, as their overseas player for 1993.

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