Foster counters Croft

Hell hath no fury like an off-spinner scorned as Robert Croft demonstrated here yesterday, but the dejected England reject was unable to prevent James Foster scoring a mature half century on his Championship debut for Essex.

Hell hath no fury like an off-spinner scorned as Robert Croft demonstrated here yesterday, but the dejected England reject was unable to prevent James Foster scoring a mature half century on his Championship debut for Essex.

Croft did the right sort of talking yesterday, with the ball, finishing with an impressive 3 for 83 off 33 overs, but wicketkeeper Foster, who has usurped Barry Hyam as first choice, stole his thunder as he helped to pull Essex round following a dreadful start.

After 25 deliveries on the Southchurch Park pitch Essex prospects had looked bleak. Three wickets had fallen in quarter of an hour - to the team which stood a point ahead of them in third place in the Second Division of the Championship, presenting Glamorgan with a valuable first bowling bonus point.

Among those to be sent on their way was another Championship debutant, the 6ft 7in William Jefferson, who was the second of Steve Watkin's three victims; at least the 20-year-old rookie had got off the mark.

There then followed a lesson to every youngster watching in how to cope when the ball is seaming around. Stuart Law and the Essex captain Ronnie Irani got their heads down and gradually forced Glamorgan heads to drop.

Law looked particularly imperious as he passed 50 for the third time in four Championship innings. His pulls bulged with power, the cuts were acute, the drives were uninhibited and invariably unstoppable. The pair had added 111 for the fourth wicket and lunch loomed when the Australian pulled Croft tamely to mid-on where he was caught by the other Glamorgan spinner, the left-armer Dean Cosker.

Irani stuck around, though, as he had when scoring an undefeated 168 in a marathon nine-hour stint in the first meeting between these two sides earlier this season. He brought up his fifty with a straight six off Croft and was on the brink of another hundred when he pushed at a Cosker delivery in the middle of a spell of 41 overs of uninterrupted spin. Croft then struck twice in successive balls to remove the twin threat of Danny Law and Ricky Anderson.

After Foster's watchful landmark, Essex were able to exploit the 10 extra overs which the day presented them and nipped out the in-form opener Steve James for 30.

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