Essex look to Law for a repeat triumph

NATWEST TROPHY QUARTER-FINALS: Home side poised to join Essex, Lancashire and Yorkshire in final four
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The Independent Online
Essex 286; Hampshire 186 Essex win by 100 runs

The portents are good. The last time Essex beat Hampshire in the NatWest was in 1985, the year they went on to lift the trophy. It was also the last time they won a one-day competition. They have Stuart Law to thank for yesterday's impressive performance. He cannot stop scoring runs, especially it seems at Southampton.

His fourth hundred on the ground in 12 months was the chief reason that Essex stormed to a crushing quarter-final victory with more than 11 overs to spare. His two catches also helped, as did Paul Prichard's brilliant fielding. The pity of it is if the Australian tour to Sri Lanka goes ahead in the early autumn - the political situation there may dictate otherwise - then Law, who scored a half century in his solitary Test appearance to date, could miss the final.

The Hampshire attack seemed to lose its way just when they appeared to be getting a grip on the tie. With Essex five down for 127, John Stephenson's men had steamed into a good position but at that point, they went off the rails.

Robert Rollins, who is no mean hand with a bat himself, played the perfect deputy to Law and the pair proceeded to double the Essex score in the course of the next 18 overs. It took Law 45 balls to reach his 50, which included a monster six back over Stephenson's head.

Hampshire's reply never got going. After Stephenson's premature departure, Law accounted for Winston Benjamin after the break and then direct hits by Prichard, one an astonishing flick behind him, sent back Kevan James and Adrian Aymes and it was all over.