Ruthless Wells turns the screw

Sussex 326 and 390 Essex 185 and 202-6
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The Independent Online
ESSEX MAN still plays cricket with a smile on his face but finds less to laugh about these days. The look on Mark Waugh's face as he became the second prime victim of Ian Salisbury's leg-breaks in the space of three overs yesterday was an acknowledgement that the county are heading for another defeat and, perhaps, another season of transition.

Alan Wells's lack of compassion in batting on to the death to set them a theoretical target of 531 (was this a display of Yorkshire grit aimed at impressing his new England master?) had already suggested that Essex faced a long struggle. After losing Graham Gooch, clean bowled by Salisbury playing back and then Waugh, unhappy at being given leg before, it threatened to become a short struggle that should end early tomorrow. That would be a second victory in three championship matches for Sussex from the unpromising beginnings of their defeat against Derbyshire by the unambiguous margin of an innings and 379 runs.

Although the visitors rattled along at four an over, it was wickets not runs that mattered, so Salisbury's contribution was crucial. He even started the slide by smartly catching Paul Prichard low at slip off Franklyn Stephenson. The former England man also lured Ronnie Irani into miscuing to mid-on and ended Nasser Hussain's 90 minutes of resistance to get amongst the long Essex tail.

The morning session had brought Sussex 143 runs as six bowlers laboured to equally little effect and by the time their lead reached 500 soon after lunch a declaration was due on humanitarian grounds as much as cricketing ones. Instead, Wells allowed Keith Greenfield to continue tormenting the Essex attack until he was last out for a championship best 121. Having been allowed only one match last season Greenfield had a point to prove and made it in emphatic fashion here as the second innings paralleled the course of the first.

Again Sussex improved on a distinctly modest start as soon as the wicketkeeper Peter Moores joined Greenfield with four wickets down. On Thursday they accumulated 161 and yesterday it was 148. Cruelly, the parallel even extended to Moores missing a century for the second time, following his 86 with a belligerent 94 before sweeping once too often at John Childs.

Having weighed anchor while Moores was with him, Greenfield sailed away towards the end of the innings, which was wrapped up when he touched Waugh to Robert Rollins, giving the Australian a fourth wicket on his return to the County Championship.