Law lets rip again but Essex miss out

Somerset 250-5 Essex 253-2 (Essex win by 8 wickets)
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Stuart Law completed his third century in four days, a masterly 116 off 93 balls, to win the gold award and the deep respect of a small crowd but lost the vital battle to put Essex into the quarter-finals yesterday. He had riddled Somerset's bowling, hitting two sixes and 18 fours, but Glamorgan's tearaway triumph at Canterbury meant it was all in vain.

The steely but elegant Queenslander is reviving Essex's fortunes faster than can have been expected. Instead of another year of rebuilding, they lead the Championship and if they are out of the first one-day competition, there seems every possibility they will be close to winning another.

There remains a question about the bowling. Essex were lucky when Nasser Hussain's 12- yard throw from point ran out Peter Bowler, after the dangerous Graham Rose, up the order, mis-hit to deep midwicket and especially when Mark Lathwell, in electric form, played on to a gentle delivery from Paul Grayson.

Nor were they able to do much in the last 11 overs when Marcus Trescothick joined Rob Turner to add 93 runs, the big left-hander knocking 57 off 40 deliveries (one six, seven fours). No doubt Graham Gooch the selector was making a mental note. Trescothick has struggled as an opener since his golden day as England Under-19 captain and perhaps his real place is at No 5.

A target of 251 always looked vulnerable with Taunton's short, straight boundaries and 69 was on the board in the 12th over when Darren Robinson was caught at midwicket. Law and Hussain then added 132 in only 21 overs before Law was made unhappy by Alan Whitehead's decision that he was leg before to a ball from Harvey Trump which seemed destined for fine leg. His departure allowed the game's senior statesman to stroll into the evening sunshine to take Essex home.

On a pitch not entirely in favour of the batsmen, Andy Caddick bowled some useful overs, and had the morning's light cloud persisted, his swing might have extended the contest beyond the 42nd over.

Surrey completed a clean sweep of Group D victories with a five-wicket success against Ireland at Eglinton yesterday.