Powell awarded cap on day for marathon men

It was not easy to work out who was the more exhausted by the close - the Glamorgan batsmen or the Essex fielders. The only certainty was that it had nothing to with the sea air.

It was not easy to work out who was the more exhausted by the close - the Glamorgan batsmen or the Essex fielders. The only certainty was that it had nothing to with the sea air.

As bracing as it can be walking along the sea-front, this was no gentle stroll on the promenade for either side, rather both parties were victims of the enormous outfield at Southchurch Park and, of course, the fine timing and perfect placement of Michael Powell and Matthew Maynard.

Just the fact that the two batsmen and the labouring fielders had to negotiate a quartet of all-run fours (and there was a fifth late in the day for Adrian Dale) was proof enough of the vastness of the playing area.

There was little need for either man to attempt to pierce the ozone layer, merely by keeping the ball on the ground they could pile up the runs. And they did.

In fact, with the mammoth total they scored in the previous game, by the close here Glamorgan were 1,078 for 9.

No surprise, though, that towards the end of their stand of 217 both men were jogging rather than running from end to end. By the time Powell prodded wearily at a Peter Such delivery he had helped hugely in a record fourth-wicket stand for Glamorgan against Essex.

There was an unforeseen reward for Powell. All that pounding up and down the pitch, all the beautifully timed shots to leg and the delightful drives which earned him a deserved hundred, also saw him presented with his county cap after the tea interval.

Powell's first-class career began with a bang three years ago when, as a 20-year-old, he marked his debut with an undefeated 200 against Oxford University, but that explosive start sadly fizzled out until last season, when he topped the Glamorgan first-class averages with 48.

This campaign has been more of a struggle again as he has adjusted to batting at No 3 after moving up from No 5; before yesterday Powell had passed 50 on just four occasions. But the way in which he amassed his 128 runs - the fifth century of his first-class career - over a patient 4 3/4 hours suggested famine is about to give way to feast.

Maynard followed Powell in Such's next over. He had scored 102 - the 47th century of his career and the 42nd for Glamorgan (five were for Northern Districts in New Zealand in the early 1990s) - having been dropped on 10 by the rookie wicketkeeper James Foster. That miss allowed him to lay the foundations for the commanding first-innings total.

With so much at stake and so little between these two sides, any advantage is significant. Promotion as a member of the top three in the Second Division of the County Championship is a tight race.

Essex were marginalised by a point coming into this match, and Glamorgan, the team just above them in third place, have certainly seized the initiative.

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