Cricket: Tufnell on the attack but Essex hold out

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Middlesex 525-7 dec and 277-3 dec

Essex 422-6 dec and 307-7

Match drawn

THERE was a time when Middlesex and Essex might both have fancied their chances on this last day: Essex to have scored 381 in 92 overs, and Middlesex to have been spun to victory by the Phil Edmonds and John Emburey of a few years ago.

As it was, Essex's chances effectively disappeared not long after lunch, when Graham Gooch swept at Paul Weekes and Keith Brown held a lobbed catch behind the wicket. Gooch vigorously rubbed his forearm and elbow, a gesture which elicited no sympathy whatever from the umpire, Barry Leadbeater.

The Middlesex spinners had two good opportunities to take control and should have won the match. Gooch and Nick Knight were out in the early afternoon, reducing Essex to 80 for 3, and the ball from Phil Tufnell which had the left-handed Knight caught off bat and pad, turned and lifted.

Emburey and Tufnell were now held off by Nasser Hussain and John Lewis. They played some good strokes, especially off the front foot against bowlers prepared to give the ball some air, and in successive overs before tea they each straight-drove Emburey for six.

Tufnell bowled 44 overs (2 for 125) in the first innings and 35.4 (3 for 88) in the second and will have been glad to have had such an extensive bowl immediately before Thursday's Test match. He did not bowl at all badly either and seemed to mask his displeasure admirably when luck went against him, which it did more than once.

Tufnell had the confidence here to vary his flight more than he sometimes does. He ran into bowl with a pleasing rhythm; his control was not always perfect but there was a natural hostility about his bowling which was all to the good.

He bowled as if he believed in his ability to take wickets, although it was surprising that he was prepared for so long to bowl defensively from over the wicket to the right-handers. After lunch, he made the odd ball lift and turn, but if it was from one particular spot he seldom found it again. It was curious too that Mike Gatting did not change him to the Town End until well into the final hour.

The second opportunity for the spinners came after tea, when Hussain played forward to Kevin Shine, who had replaced Emburey, and was well caught by John Carr at first slip. In the next over Ronnie Irani was lbw playing no stroke at Tufnell, who then bowled Mike Garnham round his legs as he swept. Essex were then 216 for 6 but were taken to safety by Lewis and Mike Kasprowicz.