Cricket:Hussain and Prichard lead Essex escape act

Nottinghamshire v Essex
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The Independent Online
ESSEX REACTED to their newly acquired Second Division status with another Jekyll and Hyde performance. Forced to follow on after losing their last eight wickets in the morning for 91 runs, they responded through a brilliant second- wicket partnership between Nasser Hussain and Paul Prichard, who scored his second hundred of the season.

Hussain, who struck the off-spinner Stephen Randall for a four and two towering sixes off successive balls, fairly raced to his 50 from 63 balls. Prichard more circumspect to begin with, took almost twice as long to reach the milestone but eventually overhauled his captain to win the race to three figures, despite Hussain pulling the first ball after tea over square leg for six.

In his first knock of the day, Hussain had looked distinctly rusty and out of sorts and after Vasbert Drakes had chipped bits off him, he chopped on, trying to cut Mark Bowen. A few hours later, a transformation every bit as remarkable as those performed on the nation's cabbage patches by Ms Dimmock and her cronies, had taken place. Toil as they did, Nottinghamshire could not find an answer.

There has been nothing in this pitch all game to suggest that run-scoring would be difficult and it was batsman error, rather than brilliant bowling, that brought about Essex's demise in the first innings.

Even Stuart Law, who scored an untroubled 67 fell foul of the blight, lazily driving Chris Tolley's second ball of the day to Alex Wharfe at short extra cover. Tolley, whose gentle swingers mesmerised the middle- order, finished the innings with 3 for 15, while Wharfe, a strapping Yorkshireman, mopped up the tail with 4 for 30.

Law, who has so far scored 1,787 runs at an average of 74, deserves better than to be playing in the second division. As an overseas player unlikely to play Test cricket again, the only consolation is that he will be keeping good company. Unless there are changes of heart in the coming months, he and his team-mates will be playing against Glenn McGrath, Shoaib Akhtar - and should Hampshire fail to beat Derbyshire today - Shane Warne.

For some, it is not simply the end of another season. In a gesture, decent by modern standards, Jason Gallian allowed Tim Robinson to lead Nottinghamshire out on to the field at the start of play. For those nostalgic about the successes of the Rice, Hadlee and Randall era, Robinson, nearly 41, is the last tie with that period.

It is time for him to go too, for his judgement is not as it was. At lunch the previous day, he had poured black coffee all over his bangers and mash in the mistaken belief it was gravy. When that happens it is definitely time to call it a day.

n The unbeaten champions, Surrey, dismissed Yorkshire for 115 at The Oval. Carl Greenidge, the 21-year-old son of the West Indies' batsman Gordon, took 5 for 60 on his Championship debut. Surrey were bowled out for 128, including an unbeaten 58 from Graham Thorpe, in their first innings. Chris Silverwood took 5 for 28. In their second innings Yorkshire were 73 for 4.

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