Cricket: Law takes charge again

Essex 319-4 v Nottinghamshire
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The strength of Australian cricket can be measured in those players left out of this summer's Ashes party as well as those included. Stuart Law, the 28-year-old Essex batsman, was among those considered not good enough, yet he has plundered runs handsomely around the county circuit. His omission might not have pleased him - but his county could not be more delighted.

Yesterday, Law overcame the handicap of a slow, greenish pitch here to record his fourth Championship century of the season, and his sixth in all first-class matches, equalling his 1996 tally. It enabled Essex, still title contenders even in eighth place at the start of this round, to establish a promising position after their captain, Paul Prichard, had won the toss on his return after injury.

The wicket here has a history of assisting the spinners and Essex have come well equipped, with Peter Such, who began his career with Nottinghamshire, bringing local knowledge as well as his other attributes.

Fluent strokeplay proved difficult but the Queenslander was prepared to take on the bowling and take a few risks. It paid off when the second of two sixes off the left-arm spinner, Usman Afzaal, sailed towards the caravan park at midwicket to bring him 53 off 79 balls. Law scored his second 50 off only 38 balls, moving to three figures when he hit Matthew Dowman in the air over extra cover for the 15th of 18 fours.

After Prichard and Darren Robinson had put on 94 for the first wicket, Law was well supported by Tim Hodgson, playing in only his second Championship match, who revealed himself as a sound technician of some promise before Nathan Astle deceived him with a slower ball.

Law added 94 in 23 overs with Paul Grayson for the fourth wicket before the Australian skied the first ball of Afzaal's post-tea spell and was caught in front of the wicket by the keeper, Wayne Noon.