Irani steers Essex to revenge win

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The Independent Online

reports from Luton

Essex 216-6 Northamptonshire 111 Essex win by 105 runs

At least Northamptonshire managed to make it into three figures. They can also draw satisfaction from the fact that their innings lasted 10 overs more than their first-innings effort in the County Championship match which took place on the same Wardown Park pitch that had seen 30 wickets fall on the opening day last week.

Ronnie Irani was the star of the day as he helped consolidate Essex's position in the top five of the Sunday League with a fine all-round performance. His bowling was as economical - two for four off five overs - as his batting was devastating.

He sparked the Northamptonshire slide to defeat by picking off both openers. Mark Ilott weighed in with three useful wickets and Peter Such took a fine running catch and also had two wickets as 10-man Northamptonshire - Neil Mallender was taken ill and was unable to bat - subsided without so much as a murmour. Only Russell Warren with two sixes in his 29 offered much in the way of resistance.

The Essex innings began at a crawl and at one stage they were being outscored by New Zealand's rugby team, most of the players coming in to the scorers' box to follow England's unhappy progress in the World Cup. But the carnage towards the end of the Essex innings was wondrous to behold. Irani in full flow was a Jonah Lomu of cricket: unstoppable. In one bewildering over from the luckless David Capel, the Essex youngster hit 24 runs, which went 6, 4, 6, 4, 4 off the last five deliveries.

Irani fell going for another big hit, caught out in the deep at long on, the first of two catches in the same Anil Kumble over - the last of the Essex innings. Taylor's second catch accounted for the Essex captain, Paul Prichard, for a fine 81, including a six and five fours. He and Irani put on 75 for the fourth wicket in an implausible seven overs.