Law maintains Essex challenge

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The Independent Online

Essex made it four wins out of four to keep the pressure on at the top of the AXA Life League, crushing Gloucestershire by five wickets at Gloucester. A rapid 58 from Stuart Law hastened the hosts' demise after they were bowled out for 139.

Law raced to his fifty in 42 balls with a mighty six over midwicket, but eight runs later he gave a return catch to spinner Richard Davis. His was the third wicket to fall in a nine-ball spell around the 100 mark, but that was the only time Gloucestershire looked as if they might have a serious hand in matters.

The others to fall - Paul Prichard bowled for 29 and Nasser Hussain leg before two balls later for no score - were both taken by Mark Alleyne, who finished with 3 for 24 off eight overs.

The home innings never settled once openers Tony Wright and Monte Lynch had gone in the first eight overs. Jack Russell was their top scorer with 35. Ronnie Irani took 3 for 23 in 7.2 overs for Essex.

Dominic Ostler made his first competitive half-century of the season and Gladstone Small took a League best 5 for 26 as Warwickshire beat Middlesex by 108 runs at Edgbaston.

Ostler raced to an unbeaten 68 off 58 balls and shared in his county's first one-day century stand of the summer with Trevor Penney (42). They put on 102 in 14 overs towards a total of 222 for 5, and Warwickshire then dismissed Middlesex for 114 for their third League win in four games.

Ostler hit eight fours and two sixes while acting captain Neil Smith followed up a Championship half-century on Saturday by making 53 from 55 balls and sharing in a stand of 68 with Dougie Brown (38).

Off-spinner Keith Dutch bowled a useful containing spell of 2 for 34, but former England seamer Angus Fraser suffered heavy punishment in conceding 60 runs from eight overs.

When Middlesex batted Graeme Welch dismissed both openers, Small ran through the middle order and Keith Piper and Allan Donald held excellent catches. Best of all was Brown's return from fine leg to the bowler's end which ran out Mike Gatting for eight as he went for a second run. Half the Middlesex side were out for 74, and only Keith Brown (44no) made an impact in a poor batting display.