Essex capitulate as Alleyne turns screw

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The Independent Online

Gloucestershire 324 and 11-2 Essex 174

Gloucestershire 324 and 11-2 Essex 174

In late afternoon yesterday stout resistance by Tim Mason meant that Essex needed one run to save the follow-on. Unfortunately, his last-wicket partner, Peter Such, who bats at No 11 on merit, was facing. An uncertain prod to gully, and Essex had been bowled out 150 adrift.

But it was Mark Alleyne, the Gloucestershire captain, who returned to the middle and ordered the heavy roller. Rather than enforce, and perhaps ignoring a weather forecast for Saturday suggesting that Colchester could disappear under water, he chose to build on his first-innings lead. The reasoning was that the wicket was already deteriorating and Gloucestershire do not want to take fourth knock against Such, the game's most dangerous bowler.

It will be a great pity, but no surprise in the summer that never was, if the weather does ruin this match. With Essex chasing promotion and Gloucestershire seeking a second win in a row to lift them from the foot of the Championship, this is a game without heroes but not without interest.

On Wednesday, Gloucestershire failed to make the best of the pitch and were nine down overnight. However, a brave fifty by Snape and a career-best 28 by the promising pace bowler Ben Gannon meant that their last-wicket partnership was the most fruitful, adding 58 runs to a low-scoring game.

Gannon continued to enjoy himself when Essex batted, with three top-order wickets. But the off-spin of Martyn Ball did most to contain the hosts, for whom only Paul Grayson showed application. In the evening, before bad light closed in, Gloucestershire limped to 11 for 2, a handy lead of 161.