Rain delays Glamorgan's title charge

Glamorgan 361 Essex 169 & 59-1
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The Independent Online
It would be cruel, but not surprising given the climatological vagaries this summer, if the weather were to dictate the course of the County Championship. Bad light and rain intervened at a critical point in Glamorgan's campaign yesterday, bringing a premature close to what had been a fascinating day's play, and the forecast for today is pretty grim as well.

There is no telling what damage Glamorgan could have inflicted on Essex second time around had 27 overs not been lost in the last session. The Welsh county certainly called the tune in the first innings. Steve Watkin, their Sorcerer of Seam, and Waqar Younis, their King of Swing, had Essex's batsmen reeling, rocking and rolling over some 192 runs adrift.

Stage Two of Glamorgan's Blueprint for County Championship success occupied a paltry 43 overs; and with maximum bonus points in the bag they promptly tightened their grip on proceedings by removing Darren Robinson, smartly taken by Matthew Maynard at short mid-wicket when Essex had two on the board in their second innings.

But although there were more alarms there were no further incursions, Paul Prichard and Nasser Hussain hung on to haul Essex to within 133 runs of making Glamorgan bat again and in so doing displayed a far more prudent approach to run gathering than had been the case earlier in the day.

Although he was the top scorer in the first innings, Stuart Law's almost cavalier attitude may possibly have encouraged the mere mortals who make up the bulk of the Essex batting order to attempt to emulate his lavish strokeplay.

The Queensland batsman eschewed singles in the main (he scored just two in his 63-ball innings), opting rather to flirt with danger as he hammered 14 boundaries and an armful of twos and threes.

While he was there it was entertainment of the highest quality, bordering at times on the majestic. Spectators could have been forgiven for thinking that he was playing in a one-day match, such was the vigour and flamboyance with which he compiled his 85 runs. But the effort was not unblemished. There were four opportunities to remove him, ranging from half-chances to near things. The pitch was deceptive. Low and slow and more difficult to score on than Law made it appear, but even he tripped up on occasion.

The most clear-cut of all was when, on 20, he drove Watkin hard, but tantalisingly short, to Waqar at mid-off, the Pakistani fast bowler sprawled forward but could not quite take the ball on the full; the hard return catch to Watkin was much later and less significant, coming two deliveries before his eventual dismissal, which gave Watkin his 50th wicket of the summer. In between, there were a couple of careless shots, fortunately into space. Others were not so lucky.

Waqar and Watkin finished with three wickets apiece, but had proved something of a troublesome twosome for Essex all day. The morning had seen them hanging around long enough to help Darren Thomas set Glamorgan up for a fourth batting point.

Danny Law mopping up the tail to finish with his best Championship figures for Essex of 4 for 69.

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