Cricket: Adams makes a happy return

Sussex 271 Derbyshire 95-3
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THE BALL moved around for most of the day here yesterday, but never more so than when it was flying off Chris Adams' bat. In an explosive reunion with his former Derbyshire colleagues, Adams made 92 from 68 balls; indeed, only 25 scoring strokes were required.

All this took place on a pitch grassy enough in parts for Derbyshire to want to bowl first after winning the toss. Even before Adams got to work, they may feel they did not make the most of the conditions.

In their defence, you would have to say it could have been no more comfortable bowling in a stiff, buffeting cross wind than it was watching. And one member of their attack, Phil DeFreitas, had been hastily summoned from the second team to replace Ryan Eagleson.

Eagleson, an Irish fast-medium bowler recommended to his old county by Mike Hendrick, was due to make his Championship debut. He was injured, though, during a pre-match warm-up, playing football, if reports are to be believed.

None of this off-stage drama was conveyed to members of the public. But there was plenty happening on stage, anyway, when Dominic Cork, moving the ball both ways at a healthy pace, removed Toby Peirce and Wasim Khan with successive deliveries. But elsewhere there was too much shortness in width. Richard Montgomerie and Michael di Venuto reached the stroke of lunch by simply applying themselves well and lying in wait for anything loose.

At that point Di Venuto, driving lavishly and a shade fast-footed at a ball angled across him by Cork, was caught behind. Enter Adams who, before he had scored, must have been close to nicking a ball from Cork which bounced and left him.

That probably convinced Adams that in these conditions anything pitched up had to go, which it duly did. His private duel with Cork was fascinating, probably played out with a certain amount of accompanying dialogue owing little to Terrence Rattigan or Noel Coward.

Cork found himself having to bowl on a seamer's pitch with a long-off and long-on. He could not quite resist the odd supercilious gesture and did his best to frustrate Adams by keeping him waiting with his deliberate field changes; but he, like everyone else, really did not know where to bowl to him.

Adams took four successive fours off Andrew Harris. He hit a straight six off DeFreitas with minimal back-lift. His half-century, from 47 balls, contained 12 fours and was applauded by most, but not all, of the fielding side.

By now many of his strokes were played with a kind of controlled rage and some were pre-conceived. Otherwise he would surely have followed Peter Bowler and John Morris in making a century against his old county in successive matches. Instead, he got himself out in an over from which he had already scored 10 runs, but by then he had already inflicted considerable damage.