Hegg helps to set Essex tough task

Lancashire 431 Essex 101 for 4
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Lancashire, smiling quietly, announced that 82,500 spectators had watched the two international matches here this year, putting £1m into cricket. There were rather fewer here yesterday to see Warren Hegg, now 33, score his second century this summer. Last season he scored 631 runs at an average of 37; over his career he has hit almost 9,000 at an average, last April, of 27. He is a far better wicketkeeper than Alec Stewart.

There is no point in nudging the selectors. They shamefully dropped him after two Tests as Stewart's deputy and have ignored the consensus of his peers, who rate him and Kent's Paul Nixon as the two best keepers in the land. Maybe "Chucky" has got the message: runs mean more than victims.

The Hegg-Mike Atherton overnight partnership continued to prosper and the fifth-wicket pair had raised 143 in 52 overs before Atherton's innings was ended with a slip catch.

Glen Chapple lifted his first ball, from Michael Davies, for six as Essex ground down the innings. Hegg was ninth out, having been missed at slip off Peter Such at 92, when one short of his career-best, but by then Lancashire had sailed past 400, even last man bludgeoning three boundaries. Hegg's 133 (196 balls) included 10 fours and a six.

Essex were set to score 282 to avoid a follow on, the clouds lifting as Peter Martin, in a sharp opening spell, had Paul Grayson caught behind. A fascinating duel developed between the 19-year-old Richard Clinton, signed only a fortnight ago from his father's old county of Kent, and the Sri Lankan wizard.

The young left-hander defied Muttiah Muralitharan for 10 overs, seeing Darren Robinson depart at 22 and only falling, at slip, as soon as Murali changed to the Stretford End. The left-arm Gary Keedy might have had Stuart Law caught had there been a second slip and did account for Ronnie Irani, a low return catch. All depends on Law.