Yorkshire kept in suspense

Essex 297 and 312 Yorkshire 334 and 270-8
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The Independent Online
County cricket cannot have had an advertisement as good as the match between Essex and Yorkshire at Valentine's Park for a long time. Since Thursday the balance of power has shifted back and forth between the two sides, often several times a day, and yesterday was no less gripping.

The teams will return tomorrow with Essex needing two wickets for victory and Yorkshire six runs. Set 276 to win, Yorkshire had recovered from losing both openers cheaply through a third-wicket partnership of 139 between the captain David Byas and the in-form Australian import Darren Lehmann.

Peter Such, however, made the breakthrough, trapping Lehmann lbw, and from the relative security of 229 for 3 Yorkshire collapsed, losing four wickets in five overs to be 235 for 7. The initiative was once more with Essex.

Both Peter Hartley and Craig White perished trying to hit into the deep after Bradley Parker had been caught behind for 33 off the bowling of Such. Byas and Gough then added 31 to take Yorkshire to within 10 runs of victory before Byas was adjudged lbw to Such for 89. The extra half- hour was used but at the close of play Yorkshire were 270 for 8. It was certainly an anti-climax, but those who watched the day's play can have no complaints about the quality of the cricket or its entertainment value.

Resuming in the morning with a lead of 178, Essex struggled against the accurate and probing left-arm spin of Richard Stemp. A veteran of two England A tours, Stemp consistently turned the ball and took five wickets in the morning for only 31 runs at less than two runs per over. The fast outfield made his figures even more impressive.

Only Ronnie Irani batted with any composure and Essex can thank his tenacity for setting Yorkshire any sort of target at all. He was the last man out, on the stroke of lunch, for a well-deserved century after Lehmann had twice pounced panther-like at silly point to take excellent catches to dismiss Robert Rollins and Mark Ilott.