Cricket: Prichard leads Essex to 10-wicket victory

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The Independent Online
ESSEX CRUISED to a crushing 10-wicket victory over Cheshire as they began the defence of the NatWest trophy they won almost as easily at Lord's last September.

That day it was a nine-wicket triumph over Warwickshire with their captain, Paul Prichard, scoring 57. Yesterday, at the more homely surroundings of Chester's Broughton Hall, Prichard hit 55 to ease Essex to 96 without loss, their innings taking just 78 minutes and ending in the 24th over.

Prichard's partner, Darren Robinson, reached 37 with the first-class county determined to finish the contest during a rare sunny spell on a day of drizzle, gloom and high winds.

The only time that Essex were made to sweat was in the first couple of overs of their innings when Robinson was lucky to avoid being run out by a direct hit from the Zimbabwean Test player, Grant Flower, when the umpire seemed to be unsighted. Prichard was then dropped in the slips by John Bean.

From then on it was a comfortable march to triumph after Cheshire had been asked to bat in the most difficult of conditions. The Minor Counties side were restricted to 92, with extras making up a third of their total.

They were demolished by Ronnie Irani and Peter Such, who took five wickets for 14 runs in 10 overs between them in a crucial spell after lunch.

Irani, the man of the match, bowled with good pace to claim 3 for 13 in his 10 overs, Such chipping in with 2 for 10.

Cheshire's gamble of bringing in Flower did not pay off. His registration had been rushed through, but he failed to make any impact on a side with a reputation as one-day specialists who are heading for Lord's again next month for the Benson and Hedges final.

Yorkshire's path into the second round was almost as easy, the joint AXA League leaders cruising to a nine-wicket win over Devon at Exmouth.

Peter Roebuck, the former Somerset captain who now leads Devon, gambled on batting first and lost as his side were dismissed for 80.

Paul Hutchison marked his NatWest debut with three for 18 off 12 overs, and although Yorkshire lost David Byas, leg-before to Stuart MacGill, Michael Vaughan and Matt Wood knocked off the rest of the runs to clinch victory inside 21 overs.

n Gary Kirsten scored 205 not out, the fourth double century of his career and his first for his country, to lead South Africa to 394 for 1 declared against British Universities at Fenner's today. He shared a 257-run unbroken second-wicket partnership with Jacques Kallis, who was 106 not out when South Africa declared.

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