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Essex v Sussex

Report from the Electronic Telegraph

23-27 April 1998

Sussex (369 & 173-4) drew with Essex (299)

Day 1: Aggressive approach pays off for Adams

By Clive Ellis at Chelmsford

First day of four: Sussex 186-4 v Essex

CHRIS Adams can be confidently expected to set a positive batting example to his new team-mates at Sussex and there were few signs in a free-flowing, unbeaten 86 yesterday that he plans to suppress his cavalier leanings in the interests of responsible captaincy.

More than once impulsive lunges threatened his downfall to catches in the deep, but he stuck to his shot-making guns in conditions which favoured the seamers and ushered his partners into quick singles which helped to sustain a highly respectable run-rate.

Despite a clinging outfield, Adams hit 14 boundaries in his 117-ball stay, cutting fiercely and sending a message of contempt to Graham Napier, an 18-year-old pace bowler making only his second championship appearance, by driving him back over his head for four.

Napier, though, could still reflect on a steady first spell and the wicket of opener Toby Peirce.

Essex's bowlers did not quite justify Paul Prichard's decision to put Sussex in, but both Neil Taylor and Peirce enjoyed moments of good fortune in an opening stand of 52, ended when Taylor, the more aggressive partner, was lbw to Ronnie Irani.

Ashley Cowan, striving to re-assert himself after a winter devoid of opportunity in the West Indies, struggled to maintain a consistent line and Neil Williams was a familiar mixture of the occasional unplayable ball and the misdirected.

Irani kept Adams shackled in his first few overs at the crease, only for the Sussex captain to puncture figures of 5-3-2-1 with three successive off-side fours, the first two authentic and controlled, the third sliced over backward point.

When he had made 31 Adams top-edged a pull off Williams, deputising for the injured Mark Ilott, which fell between wicketkeeper Robert Rollins, running back, and long leg Irani, running in.

James Carpenter, filling the left-handed position at No 4 until the Australian, Michael Bevan, slots in there next week, was a useful foil to Adams as they added 70 in 18 overs for the third wicket but soon after lunch he attempted to sweep off-spinner Peter Such fine and was bowled.

Adams reached a pleasing fifty off 65 balls just before rain lopped off 70 minutes in mid-afternoon. His momentum was largely unaffected by the break, but the prospect of a first century for his new employers was put on hold when the rain returned to prevent any play after tea.

On the strength of their win over Lancashire, a victory which matched their number of successes in the whole of last season, Sussex will already feel that their star is in the ascendant.

They have been given fresh vitality not just by the signing of Adams and Bevan but by competition for places, which was sadly lacking for the whole of last season.

Here they felt able to leave out Mark Robinson, their most consistent seamer, in the hope that Amer Khan would be able to turn his leg-breaks to good effect later in the game. To that end, Adams was not displeased to be given first use of the pitch.

Torrential overnight rain rendered parts of the outfield and run-ups a virtual swamp at Headingley yesterday, prior to the start of Yorkshire's second championship match of the season, against Derbyshire.

After an early lunch, a start was made at 2.20pm, Yorkshire winning the toss and batting, but only 3.5 overs and five runs were possible before heavy drizzle led the players to make an early retreat.

Day 2: Adams sets early test for Hussain

By Clive Ellis at Chelmsford

Second day of four: Essex (49-1) trail Sussex (369) by 320 runs

NASSER Hussain must wait a little longer before discovering if he is to be entrusted with the England captaincy. He was given an unexpected chance to air his credentials at county level when Paul Prichard joined Essex's early-season casualty list yesterday.

Prichard went to hospital for an X-ray after complaining of a sore leg on Thursday evening and the diagnosis of shin splints indicates a three-week rest, which will leave Hussain in charge for Essex's group matches in the Benson and Hedges Cup.

He left no one in any doubt that he was the boss yesterday, pointing, advising and cajoling, though he was rather quick to go on the defensive as Chris Adams matched his belligerence of the first day in progressing from 86 to 135, his highest score since a 1996 season of rich pickings for Derbyshire.

A couple more eye-catching innings like this and Sussex could lose their new captain to the Texaco Trophy one-day internationals against South Africa next month.

Sussex offered Essex no easy victims - 10 of the 11 batsmen reached double figures - and Essex were reduced to a single slip when Adams sliced Ronnie Irani powerfully at head height for Hussain himself to cling on at point.

Adams's dominance was so marked that he scored his runs quickly, hitting 18 fours off 196 balls and plundering off-spinner Peter Such for two straight sixes after reaching a hundred.

Essex missed the pace and variety of left-armer Mark Ilott, who pulled a shoulder muscle in the defeat at Worcester, but Hussain permed his six-man attack imaginatively.

He would have hoped to have dispatched the Sussex lower- order without too much fuss, but Peter Moores and Paul Jarvis, dropped in the slips by Stuart Law when he had made 10, brought a third batting point within view with a seventh- wicket stand of 40.

Moores, restrained at first, thumped the normally economical Such for another six and was attempting something similar when he was bowled by the off-spinner.

Hussain, a little unwisely given imminent battles of greater import, tried to pull off a miraculous diving catch as Jarvis launched into a cover drive of huge power. Hussain's reward was bruised fingers, Jarvis's another boundary.

Sussex have already given notice they will be a harder nut to crack this season, and they extracted 66 potentially crucial runs from the last two wickets.

Ashley Cowan, who was doubtful for this game after suffering back spasms in the game against Worcestershire, bowled at little more than medium pace and had the ignominy of being clattered for two unorthodox fours by Jason Lewry before having Sussex's No 11 comfortably caught by Hussain at midwicket.

James Kirtley, by contrast, raced in to the threatening accompaniment of four slips and a gully, forcing Essex opener Darren Robinson into two hurried, edged strokes in the opening over.

Paul Grayson has filled in before as an emergency opener for Essex and he served them well again here on a slow and largely reliable pitch. Robinson too was quick to exploit anything short.

Adams showed his willingness to experiment by bringing on leg-spinner Amer Khan in the 10th over but it was Jarvis, immediately after changing ends, who made the breakthrough, having Grayson caught behind as he tried to withdraw his bat.

Day 3: Cowan warms to task as nightwatchman

By Clive Ellis at Chelmsford

ASHLEY COWAN must be starting to wonder if he should choose batting as his special subject. A winter spent honing his skills as a net bowler in the Caribbean was of doubtful value to his development as a pace bowler and has been closely followed by a tentative start to the season.

His one over in Worcestershire's frenetic run chase on Monday produced 19 embarrassing runs, though he was discomfited by back spasms in that game, and his sole victory in Sussex's first innings here was last man Jason Lewry.

Cowan, however, is a good enough and well enough organised batsman to relish any opportunities as a nightwatchman and after negotiating the last few overs on Friday, as Essex set off in vague pursuit of a Sussex total of 369, he warmed to his task yesterday.

Given all the early morning rain, it was a tribute to the drying powers of the County Ground that play got under way at 12.30. Cowan was more amused than perturbed when a lively bouncer from Paul Jarvis glanced off his helmet and he looked anything but the junior partner to regular opener Darren Robinson.

He had made 27 to Robinson's 46 when lunch arrived but tucked into Amer Khan's modest leg-spin afterwards, twice lifting him straight for boundaries in an over. Robinson's unobtrusive fifty occupied 106 balls, Cowan's was completed off just 72.

He looked an excellent bet to beat his career-best score of 77 but on 66 revealed a touch of naivety with an elaborate leave to a Khan googly which disturbed his off stump. Cowan's stand with Robinson had yielded 115 runs.

Such prolonged resistance should have eased the way for Nasser Hussain and Stuart Law, Essex's two players of genuine class, to flourish, but this has been a curious game for Hussain. Thrust into the role of stand-in captain by Paul Prichard's shin splint injury, he managed just a single before edging Khan to Peter Moores behind the stumps.

Law is one of those rare players who can elevate an afternoon of meandering, meaningless cricket into something worthwhile and watchable. Essex followers never cease to be amazed that Australia have enough talented batsmen to ignore his international claims.

Part of the answer, perhaps, came with his crass dismissal yesterday, cutting Keith Newell's innocuous medium pace to Jarvis at backward point. At least that aberration was preceded by 43 sublime runs off the same number of balls, but Essex capitulated alarmingly just before tea in the face of some spirited Sussex bowling. From 224 for three, they drifted to 248 for eight, prompting Prichard to hobble to the crease.

There is a bustle about Sussex's cricket which was ground out of them by accumulated failure last season. Chris Adams, the new captain, batted with muscular authority to make 135 here and there is Michael Bevan still to come.

They are far from the complete outfit, but the thought of Adams and Bevan in tandem is a cheering one for success-starved supporters.

Day 4: Adams cuts loose with repeat show for Sussex

By Clive Ellis at Chelmsford

FOR a man trying to engineer an instant revolution in Sussex's fortunes, Chris Adams is looking remarkably relaxed. It helps when you have just scored two centuries in a match for the second time in your career.

In two appearances for Sussex, Adams has already amassed almost half his championship tally of 611 runs in a disjointed final season at Derbyshire.

His 105 against Essex yesterday - Neil Williams missed a sharp caught-and-bowled chance when he had made five - brought individual glitter to a final day deflated by afternoon rain.

Adams is aware of the need to temper his natural shot-making arrogance in deference to the team dynamic, but both hundreds here were rapid by any standards. The first required 132 balls, the second only 118.

He was at his most destructive after completing his fifty yesterday. Three times in two overs he hit off-spinner Peter Such for straight sixes.

Rain permitted only 15 overs at Taunton yesterday, Somerset advancing from 213 for eight overnight to 255 all out while Nottinghamshire, chasing 256 in a maximum 74 overs after a double forfeit, moved uneasily to 16 for two, writes David Green.

After another delayed start, Adrian Pierson added only one straight four to his 67 before edging Alex Wharf to slip, but Andrew Caddick and Kevin Shine hit out effectively before Shine fell to Mark Bowen, who returned a career-best seven for 73.

With the pitch still green, Nottinghamshire's task was a stiff one and Paul Pollard and Mathew Dowman soon fell to inward movement before heavy storms dashed Somerset's hopes.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 30 Apr1998 - 10:20