Cricket: Gough vexes Essex

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The Independent Online
Yorkshire 397 and 11-3

Essex 250

WHO needs Richie Richardson? Not Yorkshire, apparently. Having licked the county champions by an innings at Leeds last June, the white rose proved a thorn in Essex's side once again yesterday, forcing Graham Gooch's beardless wonders to dig deep to avoid the follow-on.

Not for the first time, an inventive fifty from Mike Garnham eased Essex out of a jam, yet the target was reached with only two runs to spare. The sense of humility was stark, so much so that Mark Ilott promptly took 3 for 5 in 14 balls to even the score. Interest in the opening 45 minutes revolved around Essex's attempts to dislodge Mark Robinson, a task normally akin to removing an apple from a lowly branch. Instead, Robinson held fast as his partner, Darren Gough, accounted for all 38 of their last-wicket stand.

Gough was soon in the thick of it again after Gooch had hit 38 of the first 48 runs off Essex bats. Then, off the last ball before lunch, the England captain pulled Robinson hard and high towards long leg where Gough pulled the ball down two-handed just as it seemed to be past him, a remarkable catch.

For a while, Paul Prichard and John Stephenson threatened permanance until Paul Jarvis returned for a swifter second spell. Softening Stephenson up with a blow to the left hand, the stand-in captain then turned his attention to Prichard, bowling him off his pads.

Salim Malik glided his first ball to the point boundary only to mis-read the next offering, a slower one from Jarvis. Jarvis immediately recalled Gough, whose first delivery Stephenson cut to point, then summoned Craig White, who duly trapped Nasser Hussain in front with his first ball. When the captain subsequently hit direct from mid-off to cut down the reckless Garnham, he must have felt there was nothing to this leadership lark. Then came Ilott, turning the grin into a grimace.