Cricket: Austin savages Durham

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The Independent Online
Lancs 264; Durham 138-8

Lancashire's batting had a fragile look about it yesterday until Ian Austin made an unbeaten 95 from 89 balls with a savagery that exposed the shortcomings of Durham's attack. He scattered runs around like confetti on a pitch where batsmen invariably have to work hard.

Just exactly how hard Dur- ham then discovered when Glen Chapple and Peter Martin, putting the ball in the right place with a consistency that latterly had eluded their opponents, quickly tore the heart out of Durham's innings. With 18 wickets falling in the day, the umpires would have been obliged to inform the Test and County Cricket Board last night. But they might have added that though the bounce was inconsistent, batsmen were not endangered and there was a lot of moderate batting. Although Durham have a suspended sentence of a 10-point deduction hanging over them, they may be able to breathe easily this time.

That could not be said for Lancashire who, after their epic win over Yorkshire, probably have much to celebrate. But at 115 for 6, with two front-line batsmen out injured, they had plenty of time for sober reflection as they were undone initially by Simon Brown, the country's leading wicket- taker who is very much in the selectors' thoughts. Not least of his attributes is the ability to bring the ball back into the right-hander. But yesterday he removed Mike Atherton with a beauty that left him late; then he pinned Nick Speak with an inswinger.

Durham's troubles started when Melvyn Betts, who hit pit- ch and bat hard, bowled five no-balls in an over. In the confusion, Steve Tichard got out to one that was wide and legal. Betts went for 38 in three overs and did not appear until later, when he bowled another over containing no-balls and a wide. Steve Lugsden's pace posed problems, but straightness was not one of his virtues. That was shown later not only by Martin and Chapple but by Steve Elworthy, who, often reaching the wicketkeeper at chest height, ended a battling innings by John Morris, who had made 50.