Patel lays down law

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reports from Ilford

Kent 590 Essex 306 & 218 Kent win by innings and 66 runs

After winning their first two matches in the Championship, Essex were brought back to earth with a considerable bump by the Kent spinners, Min Patel and Carl Hooper, and the Valentine's Park pitch. However, none of them intervened for Stuart Law, who completed his fourth century in his last seven innings for Essex.

His was the second outstanding innings of the match, and although Law may never match the qualities of Hooper, who played the other, I would back him to score more runs in a comparably long Test career.

Law is a crisp, uncomplicated stroke maker who leaves as little as possible to chance. The attribute which shone through in this innings was his excellent judgement. When the ball is turning and bouncing uncertainly, the smallest error turns a good stroke into folly.

The cricket was fascinating for most of the first hour. Law and Darren Robinson took their third-wicket stand to 157, batting skilfully against the spinners, and runs came easily enough to make Essex supporters think a draw possible. But as so often happens, after the first wicket had fallen the rest went down in a clatter. Patel, now bowling his left-arm spinners over the wicket at the right-handers, persuaded Robinson to sweep without putting his pad behind the line and was bowled round his legs.

Law's tussle with Patel was a gem, with Patel tending to keep the ball well up and Law either playing defensively or stretching his forward stride a few inches to drive with a flowing arc of the bat. It was classic stuff.

After Robinson's departure, Paul Prichard pushed forward and was caught behind; Ronnie Irani was caught in the gully for a duck and when Law was well caught off bat and pad by Trevor Ward at short leg, that was effectively that.

It was all over by lunch, Patel finishing with 6 for 97 in 37.3 overs and Hooper with 3 for 67 in 35 overs.