Waugh drives on

Somerset 421 Essex 186 and 360-8
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The Independent Online
MARK WAUGH held up Somerset's drive towards a fifth victory in six games in the Championship with a magnificent 173 in difficult circumstances. Waugh's concentration and timing were exemplary as he reached three figures for the second time in successive matches, his innings characterised by sweet, lazy drives and contempt for anything on leg stump.

Essex began the day following on, 235 runs behind, and they got off to the worst possible start when Darren Robinson was out lbw offering no stroke in the first over. Graham Gooch displayed glimpses of his old authority, but he is having a dreadful run of form and surrendered tamely fending off a lifter from Andrew Caddick.

Mushtaq Ahmed was operating by the eighth over and proceeded to bowl a wrist-defying 52 overs. He displayed his full repertoire of flight and deception, and in three balls encapsulated the leg-spinner's art against Nasser Hussain. The first ball deceived the batsman, but was edged past slip for four. The second was a faster leg break and was missed completely. The third was the googly, bowling Hussain via his boot.

By now Essex were juddering at 48 for three, but just as in the first innings, Waugh and Paul Prichard put a brake on Somerset's ambition. Prichard was aggressive without taking chances, pulling Caddick twice through midwicket for four. Meanwhile, Waugh was involved in a fascinating duel with Mushtaq. The leg-spinner probed and diced and the batsman defended with great skill, dispatching the rare loose delivery to the boundary.

Prichard fell soon after lunch, bowled by Mushtaq as he attempted to hit him over midwicket. But Ronnie Irani proved to be an equally good foil to Waugh with some belligerent, uninhibited drives in his 38.

Waugh displayed complete mastery after tea, adding a further 50 partnership with a stubborn Mark Ilott. Waugh finally fell caught at slip off Caddick, who returned with some pace with the new ball. But despite Waugh's heroics, Essex were only 125 ahead at the close.