Croft robs Essex as record is rewritten

<preform>Essex 642 &amp; 165<br>Glamorgan 587 &amp; 223-6<br>Glamorgan win by 4 wkts</preform>
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The Independent Online

Glamorgan completed a remarkable four-wicket County Championship victory over Essex at Chelmsford yesterday after being completely outplayed during the first two days when Essex scored 642.

Glamorgan completed a remarkable four-wicket County Championship victory over Essex at Chelmsford yesterday after being completely outplayed during the first two days when Essex scored 642.

No side in the history of the game has scored more runs in a first innings and gone on to lose the match. The record was previously held by Northamptonshire, who totalled 632 before they were beaten by four wickets in 2002 - by Essex.

The third day arrived with the visitors still 305 short of avoiding the follow-on with only five wickets remaining. But they recovered to finish only 55 runs behind Essex's 642 and yesterday bowled them out for 165 in their second innings.

This left the Welsh county a target of 221 in a minimum of 69 overs and it was one that they achieved with 22 deliveries to spare to leave themselves on the brink of gaining promotion to the First Division. David Hemp, with his 10th score of over 50 this season, ushered them to victory. A combination of watchful defence and an ability to punish the loose ball enabled him to gather an unbeaten 83 from 154 balls, 12 of which he despatched to the boundary.

He and skipper Robert Croft had an unbroken partnership of 70 as the visitors collected 21 points from their fifth and probably most satisfying Championship victory of the campaign.

It all added up to a defeat which effectively ended Essex's slender promotion hopes on a day they earned a slice of history they could have well done without. Essex had started the final day on 101 for four, but were quickly plunged into trouble by off-spinner Croft as he picked up four wickets in the space of 44 deliveries at a cost of 13 runs. And it was only a last-wicket partnership of 27 involving James Middlebrook and Danish Kaneria, the second highest of the innings, which gave the final total a semblance of respectability.

Croft and Australian paceman Mick Lewis finished with four for 52 and four for 39 respectively and were responsible for Essex's demise.

When Glamorgan set off in search of victory they lost wickets steadily, two of them in an over from Kaneria which left them 153 for six and the game on a knife-edge.

But Hemp - who scored his 1,000th run of the season when he had reached 23 - and Croft, who ended unbeaten with 28, saw the Welsh county home.

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