Cricket: Mean wiles of Pringle: Essex gently do it - Kent take their chances - Lancastrian's landmark - Tendulkar conundrum

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Surrey 292

Essex 25-0

A HALF-FIT Derek Pringle may not feel he is of much use to England, but to Essex he is indispensable. Four of the first six in the visiting order were seduced by his seamy wiles yesterday in a resourceful stint that kept Surrey from achieving their potential on a bland pitch. A laid-back soul at heart, perhaps he simply prefers the gentler pace of the county grind.

Watching Surrey bat nowadays kindles memories of the infuriating delights inherent in following Chelsea during the Osgood- Cooke-Hudson era. If the talent is undoubtedly there, fulfilment is elusive, yet dull moments are few. There is always someone to tickle the palate, and the menu here offered a hearty helping of Monte Lynch at his cocky best as he reminded Essex of the verve that once tempted them to sign him.

Joining the resolute Darren Bicknell after Pringle had thrust aside Neil Sargeant and Graham Thorpe in his opening seven overs, the Surrey captain was initially content to bide his time as the ball snaked around amid the early damp.

Two lordly fours off John Stephenson in the first over after lunch subsequently served as an overture to an afternoon rich in percussive strokeplay as Lynch drummed up 18 boundaries with a blend of effortless drives and exquisite cuts.

Bicknell reached 50 then frittered away his good work with a lax drive at Pringle, donating a second catch to Mike Garnham, unexpectedly restored five days after having 16 stitches inserted in an eye injury. David Ward, himself back after missing a month with a broken finger, now formed a jaunty duet with Lynch, the fourth wicket whistling up 90 in 22 overs.

Garnham's vision appeared sound enough when he spotted Ward's back foot sliding fractionally out of bounds and effected an exemplary stumping off the ubiquitous Stephenson, but Lynch had already swept to his third hundred of the summer, off 191 balls, before Peter Such, Monday's trump card, was belatedly summoned for the 73rd over to a chorus of ironic applause.

Quite why Paul Prichard elected to keep Such fretting at long leg only he will know. The dividends, however, were immediate, Lynch slicing an attempted hoist to cover off his second ball, whereupon the off-spinner weaved through the tail, the last six wickets subsiding for 40.

Stephenson and Prichard then waded into the new ball with the relieved air of batsmen who know their bowlers have escaped lightly.