Cricket: Mullally adds to Essex gloom

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Essex Eagles 166 Leicestershire Foxes 169-5

Leicestershire win by 5 wkts

IT WAS the day of the Darrens. Essex's Robinson carried his bat for an excellent 74 - his best one-day innings of the season - but could not quite carry his side. Leicestershire's Stevens also hit a half century and his side did win, with embarrassing ease and more than 13 overs to spare.

The upshot was that Leicestershire stay in touch with the pacemakers in the First Division of the CGU National League while bottom-placed Essex, following their fifth consecutive defeat in the 45-over competition, are now even more likely to make the drop into the Second Division.

Stevens certainly gave Essex a lesson in run-making, his 68 - the second time he has passed fifty in three innings in this competition - occupied 75 balls and included a six and half-a-dozen fours. Danny Law was the pick of the Essex bowlers with 3 for 26.

At one stage it looked as if Essex might not reach three figures, let alone set any kind of a target. Having lost Paul Prichard on the third delivery of their innings they had five men back in the pavilion with just 53 on the board and the halfway mark approaching.

Robinson was on 22, scored at barely a run an over. He and Graham Napier did put on a spurt but that was cut off when the England Under-19 batsman got under one in the off-spinner Timothy Mason's second and last over to present Chris Lewis with a simple catch.

Thankfully Barry Hyam, with his highest score (37) in the competition, provided Robinson with the support he needed and the pair put on 77 for the seventh wicket. Without that partnership Essex were looking in terrible shape. In his near three-hour innings Robinson faced 121 balls, hitting just five boundaries.

The Leicestershire bowling was certainly foxy, England's Alan Mullally sending down four maidens and finishing with 2 for 12 in 8.4 overs. Jonathan Dakin was a trifle more expensive, but his four wickets went a long way to ensuring Essex did not amass a big total. For Mike Kasprowicz, an Essex player in 1994, there was a degree of satisfaction with a return of 3 for 34.