Penney in mint condition

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The Independent Online
HENRY BLOFELD

reports from Ilford

Essex 328 Warwickshire 346-6

Warwickshire had a much better day than they had any right to expect. Their batsmen owe a big debt of gratitude to Paul Prichard, the Essex captain, whose handling of his two spin bowlers defied comprehension on a pitch which gave them a lot of turn.

He did not employ either of them until 21 overs had been bowled and Warwickshire were 62 for 1 when a captain should surely have been looking to bring on his spinners at the first possible opportunity while the ball was still hard which would have given them extra bounce.

John Childs was only brought on for the last over of the morning and promptly had Nick Knight lbw with his second ball. Immediately after lunch Peter Such and Childs bowled 12 overs in tandem.

But Prichard decided to use seam and the spinners did not again bowl together in partnership until only eight overs were left, by which time the scores were level. It was as if Essex were bowling for an eventual declaration, rather than for an important first-innings lead.

This still cannot take away from some excellent batting by Dominic Ostler and Trevor Penney, who put on 151 in 36 overs. They came together when Knight's composed innings ended and both took advantage of some ordinary Essex bowling.

Such and Childs looked as if they were both in need of the long spells they were not given. They bowled too many loose balls and Ostler and Penney dealt effectively with the half-volleys and short balls that came their way, adopting a bold tactical approach.

Essex were not helped by fielding, either. Graham Gooch dropped a straightforward catch at deep square leg when Ostler, who was 24, mistimed a hook against Mark Waugh. Penney should have been stumped by Robert Rollins when he was 46, and earlier the wicketkeeper had dropped Knight off Such and did not have one of his better days.

At 239, Ostler was lbw to Ronnie Irani after batting 170 balls for his 116. Penney reached his 100 in 177 balls and later put on 84 with Roger Twose to rub salt in the wound for Essex.

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