CricInfo Championship: Northamptonshire v Essex at Northampton, 27-30 Jul 2001|
Essex 2nd innings:
Northamptonshire 1st innings:
Essex 1st innings:
Northamptonshire 2nd innings:
The visitors looked to be easing their way to safety at 283-5 just after tea, with opener Paul Grayson still going strong.
But his dismissal – leg-before to Paul Taylor’s occasional left-arm spin for 149 – turned the match, and Essex then lost their last four wickets for just two runs in 28 balls and were all out for 297 to give Northants a chance.
The target was 95 in 15 overs, and with Mike Hussey picking up where he left off in the first innings the hosts got there at 96-0 with four of those overs to spare.
Hussey followed his record-breaking 329 in the first innings with an unbeaten 70 off just 33 balls in the second, including a six and 11 fours, and was on the field for the entire duration of the match.
The result was desperately hard luck on Grayson, who became only the second Essex batsman – after Graham Gooch in 1990 – to score two hundreds in a match against Northants. His second effort lasted just over five hours with 22 boundaries.
David Ripley’s men managed only one breakthrough in the morning session, removing Darren Robinson for 31, and with Grayson and Stuart Law (48) together a draw looked the most likely outcome.
But off-spinner Jason Brown plugged away for a season’s-best 5-107 in 40.2 overs, and Hussey was on hand to administer the knock-out punch to the first division’s bottom team.
Grayson followed his 173 in the first innings with 126 not out in the second to guide the visitors to 247-5 at tea – a lead of 44 with five wickets and one full session remaining.
The 30-year-old Yorkshireman reached three figures from 185 balls with 17 fours, and became only the second Essex batsman – after Graham Gooch – to notch two centuries in a game against Northants.
The hosts managed just one wicket in the morning session, Darren Robinson edging off-spinner Jason Brown behind, but fared better in the afternoon as they removed Stuart Law (48), skipper Ronnie Irani (14) and Stephen Peters (13), with Brown picking up the last two.
But Grayson repulsed everything Northants could throw at him, and his team’s hopes of securing a draw rested squarely on his shoulders.
Grayson stood firm for five and a half hours in the first innings, making 173, and was undefeated on 70 at lunch with the visitors fighting hard on 138-2 – still 65 runs adrift.
Northants went into the final day with high hopes of recording their first Championship victory of the season, but failed to make an early breakthrough as Grayson and Darren Robinson carried their second-wicket stand to 62 in 22 overs.
Jason Brown eventually broke through by having Robinson (31) caught behind, giving the off-spinner his first wicket of the game, but Grayson, who passed 50 off 96 balls with nine fours, found another solid partner in Stuart Law.
Law escaped a half-chance to Toby Bailey at silly point off Brown with 24 to his name, and was still there on 31 at the break to give Northants additional cause for concern.
Grayson held firm for five and a half hours to make 173 – his third Championship century of the summer – while Foster, the talented 21-year-old wicket-keeper/batsman, notched 79 to boost the visitors to 430 all out.
They were still forced to follow on and closed on 30-1 in their second knock – needing another 173 to make Northants bat again with a day to go.
Grayson and Darren Robinson (63) took their second-wicket stand to 197 in 59 overs before Robinson edged Paul Taylor behind, and Essex then ran into serious trouble with the loss of three key wickets in quick succession.
Stuart Law, making his return to Championship duty after a month’s absence, went cheaply as Tony Penberthy removed him with a hint of late movement, and when Ronnie Irani and Stephen Peters also missed out the visitors had subsided from 245-2 to 260-5 in the space of four overs.
Grayson’s long vigil, studded with 22 fours, ended shortly after lunch as he snicked Graeme Swann low to slip, but Essex continued to resist through Foster who shared half-century partnerships with both Graham Napier (35) and Tim Phillips (25).
Penberthy eventually had Foster, who escaped two chances to slip, taken by the wicket-keeper, and Northants ended the day on a high note as opener Richard Clinton failed for the second time in the match.
Opener Grayson battled his way to 173 in nearly five and a half hours, keeping the Northants attack at bay for 87 overs and adding 197 for the second wicket with Darren Robinson (63).
Then Foster weighed in with an unbeaten 61 to steer Essex to 385-7 at tea – still 248 runs adrift with four sessions of the match remaining.
Grayson hit 22 fours and faced 287 balls in a defiant knock, but Northants looked to have broken through when they snapped up three wickets – Stuart Law, Ronnie Irani and Stephen Peters – in the space of four overs just before lunch.
Grayson’s long stay ended early in the afternoon session as he edged Graeme Swann low to slip, but Foster and Graham Napier (35) took up the challenge and put on 68 in only 16 overs to keep Essex afloat.
Northants squandered an opportunity to dismiss Foster on 54 when Adrian Rollins spilled a regulation chance at first slip off Tony Penberthy.
The 30-year-old opener hit an unbeaten 162 - his third Championship ton of the season - as the visitors, responding to their hosts’ 633-6 declared, reached 264-5 at lunch.
Grayson and his overnight partner, Darren Robinson, kept Northants at bay for the first 18 overs of the morning and boosted the total by 56 against a mixture of seam and spin.
Paul Taylor eventually broke through when Robinson (63) edged to the wicket-keeper, ending a second-wicket stand worth 197 in 59 overs.
Stuart Law joined Grayson and saw his partner reach 150 with a beautifully timed drive through the covers off Tony Penberthy, but the Cornishman turned the tables moments later when he found some late movement to have Law caught behind for 12.
Fine catches from Mike Hussey in the slips and Adrian Rollins at short leg to remove Ronnie Irani (5) and Stephen Peters (6) left Essex in trouble at the break.
The 26-year-old from Perth set a new record for the county’s highest individual score in first-class cricket, exceeding his current team-mate Mal Loye’s 322 not out against Glamorgan at Northampton in 1998.
And he also became only the sixth Australian batsman to notch a triple hundred in England, following in the illustrious footsteps of Victor Trumper, Warwick Armstrong, Charlie Macartney, Sir Donald Bradman (twice) and Bobby Simpson.
Hussey’s ten and a quarter hours stay, featuring a six and 48 fours off 444 balls, guided Northants to a massive 633-6 declared, and Essex replied positively with 152-1 from 44 overs at the close thanks to Paul Grayson (91 not out) and Darren Robinson (48 not out).
Hussey and Tony Penberthy (101) posted 210 for the fourth wicket in 50 overs together, denying Essex their first wicket of the day until Penberthy edged behind off Tim Phillips just before lunch.
But Hussey was in no mood to give it away, and a scampered single off Peter Such made him Northants’ fourth treble-centurion after Loye, David Sales and Raman Subba Row. Eight overs later, he pushed Phillips for one to relegate Loye’s effort three years ago to second place.
"I wondered how Mal would feel when I broke his record, but he was great about it and was really appreciative of my innings."
Weary Essex soon lost Richard Clinton as they launched their reply, but on a pitch still looking ideal for batting Grayson and Robinson shared an unbroken 141-run stand to keep their side afloat.
A single off left-arm spinner Tim Phillips midway through the second afternoon took him past Mal Loye’s 322 not out, scored off Glamorgan’s bowlers also at Wantage Road in May 1998.
And the 26-year-old from Perth also became only the sixth Australian – after Victor Trumper, Warwick Armstrong, Charlie Macartney, Sir Donald Bradman (twice) and Bobby Simpson, to make a triple-century in England.
It was a triumphant performance from Hussey, whose central contract with the Australian Cricket Board was not renewed earlier this year.
His stay of ten and a quarter hours boosted Northants to a mammoth 633-6 declared, and Essex lost Richard Grayson in reaching 29-1 from 12 overs at tea.
Hussey and Tony Penberthy (101) posted 210 for the fourth wicket in 50 overs until Penberthy departed just before lunch, and Peter Such earned himself a long rest for his marathon 53-over stint which brought the former England off-spinner 3-182.
Hussey, who resumed on 200 after dominating the first day’s play, clearly hadn’t lost his appetite for runs and was undefeated with 274 to his name at lunch, boosting the hosts to 534-4 by the interval.
Northants achieved their first objective, securing maximum batting points, at 400-3 in the fifth over of the morning as Hussey cracked Ashley Cowan for two boundaries in four balls.
With Tony Penberthy offering solid support, Hussey passed the previous highest score by any overseas player for Northants – Roger Harper’s 234 against Gloucestershire in 1986 – and reached 250 from 355 deliveries with a six and 42 fours.
The next milestone was Penberthy’s century, which he completed ten minutes before lunch, but Paul Grayson’s return catch then removed the Cornishman for 101 to give Essex their first success for 50 overs.
Date-stamped : 30 Jul2001 - 22:27