Cricket / Round-Up: Barnett thwarts Essex

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The Independent Online
THREE games into the season and like their footballing counterparts, the champions are finding life a little bumpy, writes Hugh Bateson.

One defeat and two draws is not the sort of form Essex are used to, even if they have been picking up bonus points by the hatful. Yesterday Derbyshire, or more particularly Kim Barnett, comfortably prevented them from converting a huge first-innings advantage into a victory.

Following on 268 behind Essex's huge 471, Derbyshire sailed virtually unruffled through the day to finish on 253 for 1, with Barnett recording his second century of the season to finish unbeaten on 130. Durham are now the only county he has not taken a hundred off. Saturday's night-watchman, Richard Sladdin, posted a career best 42, and then Peter Bowler took root with Barnett until the close. The only mild alarm came when Barnett nudged Peter Such to first slip in the morning, but Paul Prichard spilled the chance.

Ian Botham, who might be forgiven a wry grin at the moment, was in bombastic mood in Durham's draw with Gloucestershire at Bristol. He hit three of his first eight balls for four, ricked his neck, went off for treatment, returned when two quick wickets fell and made 73 off 78 balls, his third highest Championship score for the county.

Gloucestershire, chasing 268 off 50 overs, fell behind the asking rate, and the game was called off when they reached 168 for 4.

Northamptonshire, needing 58 to beat Glamorgan with nine wickets in hand, could only watch in frustration as the rain closed in at Swansea.

Mark Lathwell vented his frustration at being ignored during the Texaco series by hammering 127 in a second-team game for Somerset against Worcestershire at Taunton.