The rule of Law

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The Independent Online
Essex 334 and 370-8 dec

Durham 188 and 224 Essex won by 292 runs

Essex won an early escape from this northerly outpost. They extended yesterday's play to 7.30pm and had arranged for tomorrow's start to be brought forward by 30 minutes to get a flyer for Tuesday's NatWest quarter- final at Hampshire.

But all they really needed was Stuart Law in a hurry and Durham's customary collapse. Standing still only when Durham's forlorn fielders were searching the thick hedges for the ball, Law scored 134 in the morning's 37 overs. The 27-year-old Queenslander rocketed 22 fours and lifted seven sixes. He clobbered one John Wood over for 20, which propelled him to his 150 and, as a second six sailed over the tea-room, beyond his previous county highest score of 153.

With Paul Grayson in similarly speedy mode, Essex led by 473 at lunch. Yet they resumed afterwards with Law's appetite unsated: he swept the first ball from the left-arm spinner David Cox for six.

Such daring was Law's downfall. He sent the opening delivery of the second over once more into the privet and pranced down the wicket to meet the next, only to edge it to David Ligertwood. His 172 had come from 170 balls.

The Essex middle order, rushing for quick runs, fell on their swords - fortunately for Durham, as without Simon Brown their attack is badly blunted.

The belated declaration left Durham striving in vain for 517 to save the match. The county's highest fourth-innings total is 343. For a while, Sherwin Campbell stood in Essex's way. He is not as fluent as Law - the West Indian fell short of his second century of the season whereas the Australian easily completed his tenth - but continued the greenery's going- over, hitting 11 fours in his 72.

No-one else threatened Essex's early escape to victory. Durham's dismal day was summed up by the manner in which their sixth wicket went down. As Neil Williams bowled, an anguished howl of feedback erupted from the tannoy system, distracting Phil Bainbridge into edging to Law at slip.