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Law century keeps Essex at the top

By Geoffrey Dean at Southend

19 July 1998

Essex (259-7) bt Kent (229) by 30 runs

ESSEX'S terrific one-day form this season continues. This was a big match for them, against a Kent side only four points behind at the start of the day, but Essex comprehensively outplayed them in front of a crowd of nearly 6,000 to remain top of the table.

Poor productivity from their top order, particularly in the first innings, has been at the root of Essex's problem in the championship this year. In one-day cricket, however, the runs have flowed and under a warm sun, on a good pitch, Kent's bowlers had no idea how to stem the flood yesterday.

Stuart Law was at his glorious best in reaping 126 from 115 balls. Curiously, this was his first one-day century of the summer, although yesterday's extravaganza still took him past 400 AXA runs for the year.

The platform for Essex's big total was laid by Law and Paul Prichard, who harvested 78 from the first 13 overs. Prichard fell to Carl Hooper's first delivery, and when Nasser Hussain provided the West Indian with a second wicket in the same over, Kent were back in the game.

Quick runs came, however, from Ronnie Irani before the two Laws embarked on what proved a match-winning partnership, 114 in 14 overs for the fourth wicket.

Irani belted three big sixes, one a huge blow off Nigel Llong's off-spin into the gutter of the pavilion roof. Irani's 41-ball fifty was his first in one-day cricket this season.

Stuart Law played in his own sublime way - driving on the up, cutting and pulling. That he hit no more than 16 fours and no sixes showed how well he worked the ball for ones and twos. He eventually departed in the 39th over when swinging at Matthew Fleming.

Kent, who would hardly have been pleased with their bowling, then lost Trevor Ward to the first delivery of their innings when he hit Mark Ilott's loosener straight to extra cover.

Hooper and Robert Key put on 66 at six an over, but Hooper's dismissal to a miscued pull was probably the decisive point in the match.

Key, giving Ilott a charge, hit the bowler down the ground for six to reach a Sunday league best 62 off 90 balls, but both he and Llong perished at 145.

Mark Ealham was then superbly caught low down at long-on by Irani, and Kent were left needing 89 off the last 10 overs with only four wickets remaining.

Left-arm spinner Paul Grayson was the bowler to profit most from Kent's death or glory tactics, finishing with three for 40 from his permitted eight overs. He received fine support from Ilott, who took three for 43.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 20 Jul1998 - 06:23