Wagh action queried as Essex look to Irani

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The Independent Online

It was not just the weather which clouded events here yesterday. While Darren Robinson and Ronnie Irani were trying to repair some of the damage to Essex's final thrust for promotion and Warwickshire were maintaining their own belated challenge, Mark Wagh was experiencing the savage drop from penthouse to outhouse.

It was not just the weather which clouded events here yesterday. While Darren Robinson and Ronnie Irani were trying to repair some of the damage to Essex's final thrust for promotion and Warwickshire were maintaining their own belated challenge, Mark Wagh was experiencing the savage drop from penthouse to outhouse.

Only the day before Wagh, 23, had made his highest Championship score of 137 and been capped by Warwickshire. Yesterday, under brooding skies, he bowled one over of his off-spin before being taken out of the attack after being warned by umpires John Hampshire and Barry Dudleston. But Wagh was not called for a no-ball. Instead, Hampshire explained: "We expressed our doubts about the legality of his action and rather than cause an incident we mentioned it to the Warwickshire captain, Neil Smith, who then took Wagh out of the attack."

The umpires then contacted the England and Wales Cricket Board, which will study available film - and fortunately for them Sky Sports, covering this match, should be able to provide video footage to help clarify the matter. It is the second time in his career that Wagh, an Oxford Blue, has come under scrutiny. Some three or four years ago a video of his action was studied but he was cleared.

Last night, the Warwickshire coach, Bob Woolmer, said: "Mark is a very rubbery man. His arm hyper-extends backwards and it looks as if he is throwing. I would like another look at it."

Wagh's enforced absence from the attack was a blow to Warwickshire since he had been picked as much for his bowling as for his batting, although he had only sent down a total of 24 overs in four other matches this summer.

Indeed, Warwickshire's remaining quartet coped admirably. They made a breakthrough in their first over when Charles Dagnall had Paul Prichard, feet stuck to the crease, lbw. Paul Grayson (17) also fell lbw, to Dougie Brown and when Stuart Law (10), after looking dangerous, fell to a superb one-handed catch by Trevor Penney in the covers, Essex's task looked a stiff one.

However, Robinson and Irani managed to add 116 precious runs before they were separated. There was a tinge of sadness since it was Robinson who fell, to a smart catch by Dominic Ostler at backward short-leg. Robinson, who has lived in the shadow of Graham Gooch since scoring the third of his seven centuries to date in the great man's final match three years ago, and has never matched the expectations that cloaked him, fell eight runs short of another hundred yesterday.

His captain, Irani, who had passed fifty for the ninth time this season, remained there, bristling with barely suppressed belligerence, eager to lead his men into the First Division, but with 43 runs still needed to avoid the follow-on it is clearly not going to be easy.

At least they had the satisfaction of picking up a batting point before the close to safeguard something of a differential between themselves and their opponents in the promotion stakes, especially since they had made things tougher for themselves in the first hour yesterday by permitting Warwickshire to sneak a fifth batting point. At which juncture Warwickshire promptly declared, thereby denying Essex maximum bowling points.

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