Cricket: Wood adds to Essex woe

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MATTHEW WOOD'S unbeaten 48 enabled Yorkshire Phoenix to maintain their 100 per cent start to the National League season with a three-wicket Division One victory over Essex Eagles with just three balls to spare at Chelmsford.

Essex posted a useful 220 for 9 in their 45 overs thanks to 55 from Ronnie Irani and 49 by opener Paul Prichard, Craig White's 3 for 39 the best bowling return. But after Mark Ilott (3 for 43) had reduced Yorkshire to 14 for 2 they achieved their target thanks to leading contributions from Michael Vaughan (45), Anthony McGrath (38) and then Wood. The result leaves Yorkshire with a maximum 12 points from three matches while Essex have lost both of theirs.

An opening stand of 109 between Paul Pollard (66) and Reuben Spiring (56) led Worcestershire Royals towards a six-wicket victory over Lancashire Lightning at Old Trafford. Gary Yates claimed three wickets to delay the chase but the 41-year-old Worcestershire coach, Bill Athey, making a shock return, struck 22 not out to seal the win as the Royals surpassed their hosts' 186 for 8 with over four overs to spare.

Matthew Rawnsley's 4 for 27 had done most to restrict Lancashire's total, which included a top score of 44 by opener Mark Chilton. Worcestershire's two wins from three matches leaves them level in second place with Warwickshire Bears, who have the same record after an invaluable unbeaten 31 by Trevor Penney.

The Bears overcame a mid-order slump to overhaul Kent Spitfires' 170 for 7 with just five balls in hand to win by four wickets at Edgbaston. Ashley Giles picked up three wickets to restrict Kent's progress, Matthew Fleming and Matthew Walker both scoring 39, and Warwickshire openers Anurag Singh (30) and skipper Neil Smith (25) then put on 48 in reply.

Sussex Sharks maintained their 100 per cent start in Division Two with a third victory as skipper Chris Adams led them to a 54-run victory over Glamorgan Dragons at Hove. Adams scored 71 and shared a second-wicket stand of 109 with opener Richard Montgomerie (54) before Sussex slumped to 181 all out, Owen Parkin picking up three of the wickets.

But although openers Alun Evans (36) and Steve James (27) put on 48 for Glamorgan their reply fell away to 127 all out.