Such spins tale of times past with five-wicket haul

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The Independent Online

Such is life. One week you are languishing in the second team, the next you are first XI hero for a day. Peter Such, at 36 still not out of the England frame even if Essex have ignored him all season, proved that you cannot keep a good man down.

Such is life. One week you are languishing in the second team, the next you are first XI hero for a day. Peter Such, at 36 still not out of the England frame even if Essex have ignored him all season, proved that you cannot keep a good man down.

In the opening over of his first Championship game since last September, the former Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire off-spinner reminded Middlesex and Essex supporters of his worth when he picked up two wickets in successive balls, having had a very good shout for leg before turned down the ball before.

Such finished with five victims to his name, his first such haul for 22 months. It completed his set, since, with the exception of Essex (although in his two previous incarnations he had played against them), he has now taken five wickets in an innings against the other 17 first-class counties.

But he would not have been in the side if Tim Mason, who has been preferred all season, had not pulled a hamstring. Mason, who is 25 and, like Such, was also signed from Leicestershire, is seen as the future, as well as being perceived as a superior batsman.

But yesterday it was the present and what Such could do with the ball that mattered. More, as it turned out, than he managed for the second XI last week when he took four Middlesex wickets.

The Middlesex opener Andrew Strauss, who had begun to look comfortable in an opening stand of 84 with Mike Roseberry, was first to go, brushed aside round his legs sweeping. His captain, Justin Langer, arrived, pushed forward and was snapped up bat and pad by Ian Flanagan - the first of four catches for the 20-year-old - the very next ball.

Such had to wait until after lunch for the remainder of his bag, but they were equally valuable wickets; Paul Weekes scooped up by Flanagan from close range, Simon Cook perishing at deep mid-wicket the ball after a fielder had been posted almost on the spot.

In between the wicketkeeper, David Nash, fell in unlucky circumstances. He attempted a glance, the ball was parried by Paul Prichard and the wicketkeeper Barry Hyam held the deflection. At that stage Such's figures were eminently respectable at 5 for 27.

Unfortunately a gritty ninth wicket stand between Angus Fraser - who later picked off the first two Essex wickets to fall - and Keith Dutch frustrated Essex by adding 78 in 28 overs and taking a little of the gloss of Such's final return, 5 for 51.

Dutch, who had reached fifty for only the second time in his career, became Flanagan's final victim, taken at square leg off Ashley Cowan. Fraser then gave a tame caught and bowled to the same bowler and Middlesex had been restricted to a solitary batting point for the third time this season. All that remained was for Essex to waste their advantage, and they duly made a fist of that.

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