Cricket: Botham in the mood

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The Independent Online
IT HAS not been a bad week for old stagers who would rather be at Old Trafford, writes James Allen. In the more prosaic surroundings of Grace Road, Ian Botham made 65 for Durham against Leicestershire in a manner that suggested he will rage against the dying of the light in his last season, albeit in a losing cause for his county rather than against Australia.

After David Gower's century on Thursday, Botham, opening the innings in the absence of the injured Wayne Larkins, began Durham's response to a first-innings deficit of 211 in forthright fashion. He faced 80 balls and hit 11 fours, before succumbing to a Winston Benjamin yorker.

Botham's dismissal was the beginning of the end for Durham, who were beaten by an innings with a day to spare for the second week running. It was their third defeat in five County Championship matches, confirmation, had anyone doubted it, that they are facing another difficult summer.

Jason Ratcliffe's first Championship century has been a long time coming - he made his debut in 1988 - but Warwickshire were grateful for it yesterday. Needing 265 to avoid following on against Sussex at Edgbaston, Ratcliffe's 101, which included 14 fours, laid the foundation for safety.

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