Cricket: Robinson stands up to Surrey

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The Independent Online
Essex 347 Surrey 0-0

Not so much a dog day, more a dogged stay. Darren Robinson defied an initially hostile Surrey attack for the best part of two sessions to vindicate the decision of the Essex acting captain, Graham Gooch, to bat. But Gooch himself perished to the new order.

The Surrey teenager Alex Tudor capped a fine opening spell by bowling the England batsman-turned-selector. Mind you Gooch did not give up his wicket meekly, helping himself to three genuine boundaries and having his score boosted by four overthrows, courtesy of an injudicious shy at the stumps.

Others perished, too, as each Surrey bowler picked off a victim. But Robinson stuck to his task and clung to his wicket. He had made just 24 by lunch, accelerating after the interval as Surrey struggled to find the right length. For a vegetarian, that sort of bowling is meat and drink to Robinson. He gradually put the flesh on on the bare bones of the Essex innings.

His nickname, "Pie Shop", is certainly apposite. Robinson has a few meaty shots and there were some particularly sumptuous drives through the offside during his four-hour stay. There were a couple of chances when he was on 37 and 75 but he rode his luck well. It was cruel that he fell when he did - a tantalising two runs away from what would have been a deserved third first-class century. Appropriately it was Tudor who did for him, inducing the batsman to present the wicketkeeper, James Knott, with his first catch in the Championship. By then, though, he had done enough.

When Robert Rollins replaced him, he carried on the good work, growing in confidence after tea as he reached his second half-century in his third Championship innings of the season. The fact that he has a fractured left index finger which had delayed his first first-team appearance this season did not seem to bother Rollins. He has put off an operation until the end of the summer.

The only pain in evidence was on the faces of the Surrey fielders as Rollins drove Essex towards a third batting point. Sadly Rollins could not stay to see them through the 300 barrier - it took a chirpy knock by the tail-ender Ashley Cowan to do that. He frustrated Surrey for three- quarters of an hour as he thumped a jaunty 38, including a monster six off Ian Salisbury's leg spin and half a dozen other boundaries. Joey Benjamin mopped up to finish with 3 for 52, Tudor's 21 overs yielding 77 runs for his two wickets.