Gooch blasts unbeaten 186

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Graham Gooch produced a batting master-stroke at Taunton yesterday to collect the 125th first-class century of his career.

Treating the weakened Somerset attack with contempt, Gooch bludgeoned his way to 186 not out in an Essex total of 417 for 6. Stuart Law (63) and Ronnie Irani (87) provided support, but it was the 43-year-old Gooch who dominated. He reached his century with one of only a few false shots, edging Keith Parsons for his 18th four. He also smacked two sixes off Jeremy Batty in the 154 deliveries he took to reach his ton.

Another six off Batty and a glorious straight drive over the sightscreen off Graham Rose followed as Gooch moved past the 150 mark for the first time this season. By the time bad light brought an early close, he had struck 30 fours and four sixes in facing 270 balls over six and a half hours. Somerset, without Andy Caddick because of Test duty and Kevin Shine because of injury, had fought hard to take Essex back to 244 for 5 at one stage.

The England discard Simon Brown became the first Durham bowler to take 300 first-class wickets as the bottom county dismissed Warwickshire for 306 at Edgbaston.

Omitted by the selectors after his Test debut a fortnight ago, the left-arm paceman achieved the milestone with three wickets in 13 balls before lunch. The Championship newcomer Michael Powell was his 300th victim after making a pleasing first impression in an opening stand of 60 with Andy Moles.

Durham's habit of picking up maximum bowling points was then maintained by the left-arm spinner David Cox, who went some way towards erasing a bitter Edgbaston memory with a career-best 5 for 97. Two years ago Cox had the misfortune to make his debut during Brian Lara's world-record innings of 501 not out, and his figures of 0 for 163 remain the worst in Durham's first-class history.

Phil Simmons and Ben Smith added 154 in 38 overs between lunch and tea to put Leicestershire in a commanding position on a truncated first day of their match against Glamorgan at Swansea.

The leaders had reached 298 for 3 off 73 overs when rain prevented any resumption after tea, and an injury to the slow left-arm spinner Neil Kendrick threatens to disrupt Glamorgan's fragile bowling options.