Cricket: Robinson wreaks more havoc to shatter Ireland

Essex 359-7; Ireland 188-7 Essex win by 171 runs
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Essex 359-7; Ireland 188-7 Essex win by 171 runs

IF YOU are expected to fill a legend's boots, then you may as well use a high-pressure hose rather than a dripping tap.

Darren Robinson has been saddled with the opener's role for Essex following the retirement of Graham Gooch, no easy task, but the 25-year-old is making a go of it. In fact, this season he has become something of a one-day wonder. Having gorged himself on the Sussex attack twice in recent matches to score an unbeaten hundred each time, Robinson was at it again yesterday, feasting off a persevering, but ineffectual, Ireland attack to score his third successive one-day century and leave himself with an average of 380.

Robinson, once dubbed "Pieshop" because of a predilection for the wares in such establishments, is now, by all accounts, a vegetarian, but clearly the opposition-friendly bowling of the Irish attack appealed to him. Mind you, it had a certain appeal for the bulk of the Essex batsmen. They were never put under any pressure, either, by the field placings or the accuracy or venom of the attack. Indeed, there was a languid feel to the whole of the Essex innings.

Robinson's effort was chanceless and, as unhurried as he appeared, he still reached three figures off a respectable 112 balls. Having restricted himself to 12 fours in that, he indulged himself with a six over long on before falling to a catch in the covers. He had done a fair amount of damage by then, with an opening partnership of 86 with Stuart Law and a stand of 133 in 22 overs with the acting captain, Nasser Hussain (71), who smashed two balls out of the ground and into the river.

There followed a bloody onslaught which produced 97 runs in nine overs. Ronnie Irani biffed and banged his way to a 29-ball half century - by the time he was out for 69 he had thumped three sixes and half a dozen fours off 45 balls.

One Irishman to emerge with credit was the opening bowler Ryan Eagleson, who had a return of one for 36 off his 10 overs, no small feat given the havoc being wreaked all around him.

The Essex total, the third highest in the competition's 50-over format and the fifth highest in Cup history, proved way beyond Ireland's range. Neil Johnson (53) and Ed Joyce (42) did their bit, but it was token resistance. The Essex bowling was mean cuisine by comparison.