Cricket: Border cheered by bright sparks

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The Independent Online
Sussex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 353

The Australians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .306-3

AS THE Australians continued to discover that a warm-up programme in England usually equates to three sweaters and a full set of thermal underwear, the peripheral diversion of this tour is precisely how chilly the atmosphere is in the general vicinity (or fall-out area) of the tourists' captain.

Allan Border's recently voiced opinion that the English media are 'pricks' (a view that may not be exclusive to him) was the subject of an interview with the tour manager, Des Rundle, here yesterday. 'Did he say that?' Rundle enquired. 'I only read the Telegraph and I didn't see it in there.' And on Border's general humour? 'He's as happy as Larry.' Larry, we assumed, could not have been in too chipper a mood shortly after three o'clock, when Border's 37- year-old legs attempted to propel him up the Hove slope and failed to get him there in time to beat Neil Lenham's throw from the boundary.

However, Border then proceeded to substantiate the manager's opinion that while he may not have spent the last three weeks whistling happy tunes and singing in the bath, neither has he been kicking the hotel cat when he gets in from work at night.

While his partner, Damien Martyn, hung his head, wondering whether he would get another game on tour, Border interrupted his journey to the pavilion to absolve him of blame and to gee him up for a few more runs. Martyn duly obliged until rain and bad light shortly after tea brought a halt to what had been an impressive Australian batting performance.

Apart from Martyn there were half centuries, too, from the left-hander, Matthew Hayden, and the right- hander, Michael Slater, in what was part opening partnership and part personal duel.

There is one spot available as Mark Taylor's opening partner in the Tests, and Hayden stole an early lead with two centuries and a 96 in his first four innings. Slater, though, has since made up ground, and while yesterday's contest probably goes down as a draw, (Hayden 66, Slater 73), Slater looks just as classy a player.

They both play expansively, and Slater gave a couple of chances before playing on driving at a wide one from Ed Giddins. Hayden had earlier deceived himself into thinking that Ian Salisbury's bowling was a licence to print runs, and after beginning with a flurry of boundaries, he was stumped by a large margin giving Salisbury the charge.

Hayden and Slater struck a high proportion of fours in their stand and suggested that they were auditioning for next week's one-dayers as well as a Test place.