Rollins keeps Buckinghamshire at bay

Essex 327-7 Buckinghamshire
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The Independent Online
The huge gulf between first class and Minor County cricket may not have been successfully bridged at Wilton Park, but Buckinghamshire emerged from their game against Essex with plenty of credit. They stuck to it in the field and for a time mounted a spirited reply.

First, they put Essex in, which may have been partly to ensure that the game stretched into the early evening, and partly to give their attack the outside chance of embarrassing Essex.

Although their bowlers did not manage it, Denzil Owen and Simon Stanway produced accurate first spells and did not allow Essex to run away with it. Owen, a jolly 41-year-old truck driver from Jamaica, wore an extraordinary white concoction on his head that would have been better suited to Ladies' Day at Ascot and apparently has Rastafarian associations.

From the southern end of this delightful ground, he bowled his first 10 overs for 40 runs at a brisk medium, while the captain, Tim Scriven, later helped with his orthodox left-arm spin bowled from round the wicket with a nice high action. Then, Andy Clarke, who has bowled for Sussex and Derbyshire, contributed some highly respectable leg-breaks.

With 10 overs to go, Essex were 220 for 5 and Buckinghamshire had every reason to be satisfied, not least with their excellent fielding, which included a fine catch at long-on by Richard Hurd. But then came Robert Rollins who, in a remarkable exhibition of off and straight driving, hit seven sixes and three fours in making 67 not out off 26 balls and he took Essex well past 300. Owen's last two overs cost 41 runs.

Buckinghamshire's openers, Hurd and Matthew Bowyer, were not in the least daunted by the huge target or the reputation of the bowlers. They put on 43 good runs in 14 overs before Hurd drove Peter Such to wide mid-on. There followed a stirring stand of 74 in 13 overs between Bowyer and Neil Burns, who has come to Buckinghamshire by way of Essex, Western Province and Somerset.

Bowyer is a lovely, upright stroke-maker, while Burns, who is left-handed, is more of an opportunist. Their stand peaked when they hit eight fours in two overs: three to Bowyer off Such and five to Burns off Ronnie Irani. They both perished shortly before tea and Keith Arthurton, lately of the West Indies, and currently of High Wycombe and Buckinghamshire, was fourth out, caught at deep cover soon after the interval, Buckinghamshire's challenge inevitably faded.