Derbyshire 142 & 86 Essex win by inns and 145
There is a buzz to Essex at the moment. It took the county less than two days to beat a demoralised post-Dean Jones Derbyshire and pick up a maximum of 24 points, which puts them at the top of the table this morning.
After Mark Ilott had destroyed Derbyshire's batting on Thursday, Essex's advantage was forced home ruthlessly by Stuart Law and Paul Prichard, who both made hundreds and put on 199 for the third wicket.
When Derbyshire batted again, Ilott picked up the first two wickets, taking his tally for the match to nine before handing over to the off- spin of Peter Such and the orthodox left-arm spin of Paul Grayson. On a pitch that gave them plenty of turn, they spun their way through a batting side which offered little more than token resistance.
It is hard to believe that, on present form, there is a better batsman in England than Stuart Law. Essex have always chosen their overseas players well. It is their good luck that Australia's selectors do not have the same faith in Law. He and Prichard, who also played very well, did much as they pleased against the off-spin of Matthew Vandrau and the promising 22-year-old Simon Lacey. Law, in particular, used his feet to great effect.
They were both out to Lacey in the end, giving him his first and third wickets for Derbyshire. Law batted in all for 174 balls, hitting three sixes and 19 fours, while Prichard faced 167 balls and hit nine fours. Essex batted on for their fourth batting bonus point and then, surprisingly in view of the bad weather forecast, went on for 23 more runs.
No sooner had one begun to wonder why Ilott had deserted the end that brought him eight wickets on Thursday than he had Adrian Rollins caught at first slip, driving off the back foot. Eight runs later, at 16, he had Chris Adams caught in the gully off the inside edge and pad.
The third wicket, that of Tim Tweats, fell to Such when he pushed forward and was caught at short-leg off bat and pad. John Owen was bowled playing forward to Grayson just before tea, after which the spinners worked their way through the rest of the order. The last wicket fell with 11 overs left of what was in effect the second day.