Ilott revels in swing conditions

Derbyshire 142; Essex 157-2
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Southchurch Park was a bleak enough spot for most people as the cold wind blew fiercely all day, but one man who will have enjoyed it was Mark Ilott. Bowling from the Northumberland Road end, he had swept aside the Derbyshire batting by mid-afternoon, taking 7 for 59.

It was raining just about everywhere else in England, but for some strange reason this corner of Essex was fairly dry. The pitch was green, the ball swung and moved off the seam and batting was a precarious business until Stuart Law played as only he can on a damp, unwelcoming evening.

Phillip DeFreitas won the toss and decided to bat, although the surface had that look about it which would have prompted a fair number of captains to field first. Ilott was able to swing the ball nastily back into the right hander.

It was evidence of this that four of his right-handed victims were out leg before. Bowling left arm over the wicket, he would have had to have brought the ball back into the bat if he was to get an lbw decision in his favour. In these conditions and at this level, Ilott can be a giant; on bland Test pitches against better batting, he has not found it so easy.

He began Derbyshire's downfall in his third over. Matthew Vandrau came forward to the third ball and, playing no stroke, was lbw. Two balls later, Chris Adams tried to drive through the off side and was caught behind.

For a time, there was solid resistance from Adrian Rollins, but after a shower had claimed five overs, he drove at Ashley Cowan and was picked up low and with ease by his brother, Robert, behind the wicket for Essex.

After a flourish by DeFreitas at the end, the Derbyshire innings ended in the 48th over. Devon Malcolm, who had helped him add 28 for the last wicket, limped off after being struck on the left foot by Ilott. A X- ray showed only bruising, although he did not field, let alone bowl.

Essex soon lost Graham Gooch, who cannot find his touch, and Darren Robinson. This let in Law, who began to bat as if the pitch was the best in the world. A succession of glorious strokes flowed off his bat, and he reached 50 in 69 balls with eight fours and found a resourceful partner in Paul Prichard, who also reached 50.