Hussain reins in Yorkshire's attack

Mike Carey reports from Headingley
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The Independent Online
Nasser Hussain, appearing here by kind permission of the England selectors, put Essex firmly back into contention yesterday with an innings of 158, which was his first Championship century of the season. It also happened to be one that was crammed with the discipline, concentration and sheer guts demanded by a deteriorating pitch; in short, the type of batting that wins championships.

It also came by courtesy of far too much unacceptably poor bowling by Yorkshire. You cannot bowl like they did, short and wide, and hope to win anything. To do so on a surface where batsmen were increasingly apprehensive of variations in bounce was an embarrassment and all too symbolic of the current ills of English cricket.

The honourable exception was Gavin Hamilton, 21, uncapped, making only his fifth Championship appearance and - ye gods - a Scotsman. He hustled the batsmen by bowling straight, hitting the pitch and later he showed he knows how to dispose of troublesome tail-enders.

With more luck he might even have had Hussain early on. The batsman ducked a short pitch ball which failed to bounce as expected, but left his bat protruding. The ball hit it and could have gone anywhere but it sped safely to the fine leg boundary. He also dealt quite a few blows on the glove. Who would have thought that Essex would make a little matter of 194 before lunch? That was down to Hussain's robust ability to put away anything loose despite the handicap of an injured finger, and Yorkshire's all round awfulness. At 98 Hussain was comfortably dropped in the deep by Richard Stemp. Wearing his dark glasses, even on an overcast day, Stemp looked like a member of the chorus of Guys and Dolls and bowled like it - if that is not a slight on nicely nicely Johnson.

He was operating at the more helpful end where the ball turned appreciably, but you would not have known it. He was cut to the boundary umpteen times. Inevitably when he took a wicket it was with a wide long hop.

The importance of all that was seen later when Yorkshire went in 82 behind. Suddenly it was a different game. Peter Such, floating the ball up on a full length, turned an off break in his first over to have Michael Vaughan lbw.

He then had David Byas caught at slip and, best of all, lured Martyn Moxon down the pitch, beat him through the air and bowled him through the gate.