CricInfo Championship: Essex v Kent at Southend-on-Sea, 18-21 Jul 2001
Paul Hiscock

Kent 1st innings: Day One: Tea, Day One: Stumps,
Essex 1st innings: Lunch - Day 1,


EALHAM SETS THE TONE AS KENT INFLICT MISERABLE DAY ON ESSEX

Essex produced a pitiful performance on the opening day of their CricInfo Championship at Southend against Kent having been dismissed for 107 as Mark Ealham returned figures of 5-13.

The former England all-rounder produced two superb spells of probing medium-pace bowling to exploit the fallibility of the home side's batting line-up that so obviously missed the talents of broken-finger victim Stuart Law.

In his first spell, Ealham took 2-8 from six overs during which he removed Darren Robinson for 24, who offered no stroke and was adjudged leg before wicket, before having Ronnie Irani caught at the wicket for a duck.

That was then fourth wicket to fall in the morning session after Irani had won the toss for the first time in the competition since the opening day of the season only to see his side produce an abject display.

Paul Grayson was caught at second slip without scoring in the fourth over of the day and former Kent player Richard Clinton was bowled by Min Patel as he attempted to add to his 19 with a sweep shot only to be bowled around his legs.

Essex resumed after lunch on 72-4 but were soon in further trouble when James Foster gave Ealham the first of three wickets in a spell of 8-6-5-3. The Essex wicketkeeper had scored 18 in a partnership of 30 with Stephen Peters the highest of the innings but Ealham followed up with two more wickets inn his next three overs to reduce the bottom of the table side to 85-7.

Only Peters showed any defiance, batting for 163 minutes before he was bowled off his pads by Martin Saggers to end a fighting innings of 27 amongst a fragile performance elsewhere that saw four batsmen fail to score.

Ben Trott then wrapped up the innings with two lbw victims to conclude a woeful batting attempt.

In contrast, Kent made smooth if steady progress with openers David Fulton and Robert Key seldom troubled. Fulton reached his eighth first-class half-century of the season having faced 106 deliveries that included two boundaries and his partnership with Key took Kent into then lead in the 39th over of the innings.

By the close, the pair were still at the crease, with the stand worth 116 to conclude a miserable day for the home side.



EALHAM EXPLOITS WEAK ESSEX

Resuming after lunch on 72-4, Essex produced a miserable display losing their last six wickets for a meagre 35 runs.

Mark Ealham was the bowler to dismantle the innings as he exploited the fragile Essex middle and tail order to finish with figures of 5-13 that included a spell of 3 for 5 in 8 overs.

Only Stephen Peters showed any defiance batting for 163 minutes but he was bowled off his pads having scored 27, just one of four batsmen to reach double figures.

James Foster assisted Peters in a fifth-wicket partnership of 30 runs, the highest of the innings, but he became Ealham's first wicket after the interval when he played back and was leg before wicket having scored 18.

Tim Phillips and Ashley Cowan also fell to Ealham before Ben Trott captured the final two wickets to send Essex sliding to an embarrassing 107 all out.

In response, Kent made a steady start and had reached 23 without loss, or alarm, at tea.



ESSEX SLUMP AFTER WINNING THE TOSS

Bottom-of-the-table Essex won the toss for the first time in the Cricinfo Championship since the opening day of the season but were soon struggling at Southend.

Kent, without any injury worries, soon made the breakthrough against a home side missing Stuart Law, Ricky Anderson and Mark Ilott.

Paul Grayson was the first batsman to fall when he edged a ball from Ben Trott to second slip in the fourth over of the morning and departed for a duck.

Former Kent player Richard Clinton though looked confident and hooked Martin Saggers for six over long leg but the introduction of spinner Min Patel after 55 minutes accounted for the left-hander.

With his fourth delivery, Patel bowled Clinton for 19 around his legs as the batsman attempted to sweep to reduce the home side to 31-2.

A further bowling change brought a double reward when Mark Ealham struck in consecutive overs. First of all, he ended a promising innings of 24 from Darren Robinson when the batsman was adjudged leg before wicket offering no stroke and then Ronnie Irani prodded forward to the bowler and edged a catch to the wicket-keeper to record the second duck of the innings.

Stephen Peters and james Foster checked any further progress by the visitors, opting for vigilance in the remaining 15 overs to take their side to 72-4 at the lunch interval.

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Date-stamped : 18 Jul2001 - 22:29