Cricket Round-Up: Hooper excels in vain as Essex win

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The Independent Online
CARL HOOPER produced an all-round performance of bravado at Chelmsford yesterday, but could not deny Essex a close victory over Kent, writes Rupert Metcalf.

The West Indian hit nine sixes in a sumptuous innings of 160, off 149 balls, and then claimed 3 for 19 as Essex lost six wickets scoring the 50 runs they needed for victory.

'The ball bounced and turned, and it was always going to be difficult to survive,' Hooper said. 'So it needed an aggressive approach to try and take the initiative away from the spinners. Had Essex been left something in the region of 120, they would have found it difficult.'

Hooper became the first Kent player to score a century before lunch since Bob Woolmer against Derbyshire in 1979, and it needed a spectacu-

lar catch from Nasser Hussain to end his stay. Michael Kasprowicz induced a top edge and Hussain turned and raced 30 yards from slip before diving full length to hang on.

After Kent were dismissed for 399, Hooper was entrusted with the new ball, and removed Paul Prichard and Jonathan Lewis in his first two overs. He also removed Hussain, but Essex scraped home for their third successive win.

Sussex pulled off their first Championship win of the season in a tight finish at Hove. Needing 156 to beat Hampshire, they got home by two wickets with Paul Jarvis and Eddie Hemmings holding their nerve to contribute the last 17 runs.