Essex fail to stand by Gooch

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The Independent Online
Leicestershire 253 and 432

Essex 404 and 179

Leicestershire win by 102 runs

County Championship matches do not come much better than this. After being outplayed for most of the first three days, Leicestershire, led resolutely by Nigel Briers, batted well in their second innings before their seam bowlers exposed some weak Essex batting on the last day.

Only Graham Gooch threatened to hold Leicestershire up, and he came within eight runs of scoring two hundreds in a match for the seventh time. But no one will have been more aware than him of the general state of unreliability at the other end.

Essex's target of 282 in a minimum of 93 overs might have been harder had it not been for the sickening blow in the face Phil Whitticase received from a short one from Neil Williams in poor light on Saturday evening. Whitticase lost seven teeth and had 25 injections to deaden the pain of surgery.

Jack Birkenshaw, the Leicestershire manager/coach, said: "I am disappointed with the regulations telling umpires to stay on in bad light if they possibly can. The Essex fielders all said the light was too bad and Whitticase did not pick up that ball."

Gooch began with a couple of typically spanking strokes but in the 80 minutes before lunch Paul Prichard and Jonathan Lewis were out, Lewis to a good catch by Phil Robinson, deputising for Whitticase behind the stumps.

The afternoon began with Nasser Hussain leg before. Five more batsmen departed before tea and the best one could say in their defence was that the odd ball appeared to stop a fraction.

Peter Sutch made Gooch a doughty partner and they added 62 before Gooch was bowled.