Cricket / B & H Quarter-Finals: Wasim enjoys a day out at the seaside

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sussex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .178-7

Lancashire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .182-5

Lancashire win by 5 wickets

NOT SINCE the days of Duckworth, Paynter and Washbrook, who appeared on cigarette cards rather than in the Benson and Hedges Cup, has the Championship pennant flown over Old Trafford, but there are precious few greenfly on the Red Rose when it comes to the abbreviated form of the game.

There were no overseas players in 1934 either, but Lancashire's victory over Sussex, and further progression towards their 11th one-day trophy in 25 years, was largely down to their Pakistan all-rounder, Wasim Akram.

The last time Wasim was this close to the beach, he spent some time assisting Grenada's constabulary with their inquiries, but the most surprising aspect of that particular incident was the fact that he was enjoying a day off in the first place. Wasim has been on the go almost non-stop since the World Cup 15 months ago, but his decisive influence with both bat and ball here yesterday was scarcely lacking in either energy or enthusiasm.

Wasim took 2 for 27 in 11 high-velocity overs, and then, when Sussex's total of 178 began to look a good deal less inadequate, he pulled Lancashire around from 95 for 4 in 33 overs with some familiar violence with the bat. One six off Ian Salisbury resulted in a lost ball in the back garden of Hove's adjoining pub, and with Lancashire eventually getting home by five wickets with three overs to spare, there were no other candidates for the man of the match award.

As for Sussex, they were the one- day trailblazers in 1963, in the days when Gillette was safeguarding the nation from the horrors of designer stubble, but in the Benson and Hedges, you could write down their achievements on the back of a fag packet. They came here on the back of three decisive one-day victories, but must now wait yet another year for a tilt at their first 55-over final.

It was not, in truth, much of a one- day match. The crowd was thin, and those who found a better way of spending 12 quid yesterday largely proved to be impeccable judges. The major reason for this was the pitch, a low, slow, grinder-outer, totally unsuitable for this type of cricket.

Sussex decided to mark out the one used for their Championship match against Surrey three weeks ago. The wear and tear, however, was largely on the spectators.

Lancashire winning their first toss of the summer was a bit of a waste of time, as Sussex, who had won all their one-day games batting first, would have put themselves in anyway. However, there was a touch more moisture around at the start of the day, and against the likes of Mike Watkinson and Wasim, Sussex were at times barely able to lay bat on ball.

Franklyn Stephenson's hitherto successful big hitting at the start of an innings was reduced to a series of fierce fresh-air shots, David Smith did not score a run until the seventh over, and indebted though Sussex ultimately were to Bill Athey's 61, the first 15 of those occupied 23 overs.

Lancashire were also stiletto-sharp in the field, and here again Wasim played a decisive part. The Pakistani had already uprooted Smith's middle stump with a rapid yorker when Alan Wells, the Sussex captain and their best batsman, was run out by Wasim's direct hit attempting a dicey second.

Martin Speight was also run out by a direct hit, from Neil Fairbrother, and when you take liberties with fielders of this calibre, you deserve all you get. However, Eddie Hemmings (1 for 6 in his first seven overs) and Salisbury, who dismissed Fairbrother and Nick Speak in a beguiling second spell, put Sussex back in with a shout until Wasim swung the game with a six and six fours in his 47-ball innings of 46.

(Photograph omitted)