Crawley and Fairbrother make Sussex suffer

Lancashire 380-5 v Sussex
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The Independent Online
On days like these it must seem a long season for Sussex. After putting Lancashire into bat, they took two good wickets before lunch as well as dropping John Crawley at slip before he had scored. Crawley and Neil Fairbrother then showed them the error of their ways, putting on 243 for the third wicket in 58 overs.

In the morning, the ball swung under the cloud and on a damp, slow pitch moved off the seam. Many bowlers would have given a lot to use it first and a decent seam attack would have had Lancashire in all sorts of trouble.

The only two points in Sussex's favour at the moment is that they are three from the bottom of the Championship table and with Derbyshire in their present benevolent form, must have an excellent chance of avoiding the bottom. Also, of course, they reached the quarter-finals of the NatWest Trophy when they beat Lancashire at Hove which will have sent them here in good heart.

Their bowling at the start was poor and grew progressively worse, no matter the colour of the cloud through which one viewed proceedings. Paul Jarvis and Vasbert Drakes bowled too short and too wide at the start and often the wrong line too. It seems strange that yesterday morning Sussex should have had more bowling bonus points than any other county.

Mark Robinson bowled Jason Gallian with a beauty which pitched on middle and hit off and Mike Atherton, who was in fine form, was lbw to James Kirtley to one which cut back into him. On another day he might have played forward. Just before Atherton was out, Crawley went back to force Robinson through the offside and was dropped by Keith Greenfield at first slip, two-handed to his right.

Then Crawley and Fairbrother set about making Sussex suffer. Crawley's stroke play was a delight as he drove and flicked the ball away off his pads. He is always so elegant. His talent is unquestionable; it is only his temperament that may still hold him back.

Fairbrother also played some lovely strokes as he went easily to his first hundred of the season. Like Crawley, he would no doubt have said that the Sussex bowling, from lunchtime onwards, made it easier for him. The control of all the bowlers was not good, making it so difficult to set a field.

Eventually, Crawley played a loose drive and was caught behind having faced 199 balls and hit 15 fours. Fairbrother's innings came to an end when he square cut Kirtley to cover after facing 196 balls and hitting 14 fours.