Cricket: Adams accuses Warwickshire of cheating

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CHRIS ADAMS, the Sussex captain, yesterday countered Warwickshire's complaints in the row over relegation to the County Championship's new Second Division by accusing them of "blatant cheating" and saying they deserved to go down.

Warwickshire, who beat Sussex inside two days at Edgbaston last week, have called for the England and Wales Cricket Board to investigate Derbyshire's defeat by Hampshire, which consigned them to the Second Division next season.

However, Adams said: "From my point of view I'm desperately disappointed. Warwickshire prepared a pitch that was not going to go four days and in my view that is blatant cheating. We believe that Warwickshire deserve to be relegated."

Had Sussex avoided defeat at Edgbaston they would have secured their place in next summer's First Division in the new two-tier competition. Instead they collected only four bonus points, which left them three points below the cut-off point. Warwickshire collected 17 points but missed a place in the First Division because they had won one fewer match than Derbyshire, who collected five points to match Warwickshire's total.

Hampshire gained the victory they needed by only two runs after some declaration bowling had left Derbyshire chasing 285 in four sessions.

Warwickshire are concerned by suggestions of collusion at Derby and their chief executive, Dennis Amiss, said: "I have spoken to our chairman [M J K Smith] and we agree that we have got to bring the matter to the Board's attention. At this stage we do not know the full facts but we would ask the Board whether they are prepared to investigate if anything untoward has gone on or whether the game of cricket might have been brought into disrepute. I know captains have colluded in the past but this does affect other counties, and a target of 285 in four sessions does seem to be very generous."

The complaints would have more weight if Derbyshire had achieved the supposedly easy target rather than falling short. Hampshire's captain, Robin Smith, shrugged off Warwickshire's criticism and said, after Peter Hartley had taken the last two Derbyshire wickets to end the hosts' victory pursuit: "Let them go ahead. It doesn't make any difference if you contrive a victory on the first or the last day of the season. It has been happening for 25 years or more and it will continue to happen.

"We have played our home matches all season on outstanding cricket wickets but nothing is said about games that finish in two-and-a-half days on substandard pitches.

"Dominic Cork [Derbyshire's captain] and myself decided that we wanted to play a game of cricket.

"I don't think anyone can complain. We are trying to attract the crowds and everyone who was here today saw a hard-fought contest. I feel for Dominic. He agreed to play a good cricket match when I approached him after lunch on Friday. He took a chance. Unfortunately it didn't work for him but it worked for us."

Durham gained enough points from their rain-hit draw against Leicestershire to gain a place in the top flight. Their captain, David Boon, bowed out of first-class cricket by completing a half-century.

FINAL COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP TABLE

P W L D Bt Bwl Pts

Surrey (5) 17 12 0 5 36 64 264

Lancs (2) 17 8 4 5 37 55 208

Leics (1 17 5 3 9 43 61 200

Somerset (9) 17 6 4 7 38 56 194

Kent (11) 17 6 4 7 34 60 194

Yorkshire (3) 17 8 6 3 21 64 193

Hants (6) 17 5 5 7 45 58 191

Durham (14) 17 6 7 4 34 66 188

Derbys (10) 17 7 8 2 34 61 187

Warwicks (8) 17 6 5 6 35 56 187

Sussex (7) 17 6 5 6 29 60 185

Essex (18) 17 5 7 5 38 63 181

Northants (15) 17 4 7 6 35 64 171

Glam (12) 17 5 7 5 26 57 163

Worcs (13) 17 4 6 7 18 65 159

Midd'sex (17) 17 4 5 8 24 53 157

Notts (16) 17 4 11 2 27 57 140

Gloucs (4) 17 2 9 6 26 62 136

l 1998 position in brackets

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