Cricket: Prichard leads the charge

Click to follow
The Independent Online
By John Collis

at Chelmsford

Glamorgan 172-9; Essex 173-2 Essex win by eight wickets

THIS SEASON, the Home Counties are providing mirror-image examples of how the same basic squad of players can dominate one form of the game while, at the same time, be permanently baffled by the other. Surrey, Championship winners in waiting, are clueless in the one-day format while Essex, sunk without trace in the four-day table, are keenly reaching out for the AXA League pennant. Already, of course, they have secured the Benson and Hedges title by obliterating Leicestershire.

On that day their captain, Paul Prichard, was the man-of-the-match for his commanding 92, and once more he led Essex to victory yesterday, cheated of a run-a-ball century only by failing to reach the boundary with the winning hit. His inexorable progress was cheered by a packed and increasingly boisterous crowd,and this time the award was deservedly shared with his batting partner, Ronnie Irani, who had bowled Essex into a winning position earlier in the day.

But thanks to Glamorgan's Ismail Dawood, the entertainment stretched into a cloudless evening. He came in to bat when Irani had just taken two wickets in three balls to cut the visitors down to 46 for 5. When Dawood was out to Glamorgan's final ball, again from Irani, he had restored some respectability to the innings.

The Yorkshire-born wicketkeeper was on the books at Northamptonshire and Worcestershire before signing for Glamorgan this season, where he now seems at home. He went to 50 with an audacious paddle to leg off Mark Ilott. Tail-end support by Darren Thomas and Andrew Davies, following Tony Cottey's rot-stopping innings in mid-afternoon, helped save Welsh embarrassment. And while Prichard attacked from the start, Glamorgan kept in the game by briskly dismissing Darren Robinson and Stephen Peters.

Although victory was secure by then, Prichard should have perished on 73 when a big hit went straight to Owen Parkin, who caught the ball, spilt it in slow motion, grasped it, juggled and grounded it. There was no stopping Prichard, who is limiting himself to one-day cricket while nursing sore shins. No evidence of this ailment was apparent when the shot of the day, taken off Dean Cosker, cleared the stands at mid-wicket. Essex now look like champions, just as once they did in proper cricket.