Cricket: Cork is buoyant

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The Independent Online
Sussex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .171 and 127

Derbyshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123 and 94-5

DOMINIC CORK and Peter Bowler must have read the wrong script. This story was supposed to end with Sussex's sixth win in their last eight games, and be the prelude to a late run at the County Championship. It may still turn out that way, but Derbyshire are forcing Sussex to work for it. Derbyshire's pace bowlers got Sussex out for 127 - about 75 less than they thought they needed.

This pitch is a slow turner and Ian Salisbury and Eddie Hemmings are the right pair to exploit it. But a patient 52 by Bowler frustrated Sussex and gave Derbyshire a slim hope for victory on Monday, when they need 82 to win with five wickets standing.

Downing a pint of cola after taking six for 29 in 24.5 consecutive overs in Sussex's second innings Cork observed that the pitch is a good wicket. Normally it is slow and takes turn as the game goes by, but yesterday at 11am the sun retired behind high clouds and the moisture that was left in the wicket stayed there. Besides spin for the spinners, there was swing for Cork and Devon Malcolm.

The only Sussex batsman to resist was Martin Speight; last yearat Eastbourne, he scored 184, his highest so far and a match-winning innings. Yesterday he was four short of his half century, but the innings may yet prove to be decisive.

Speight was eventually bowled by Cork, one of four wickets to fall to him in 55 minutes after lunch. He had begun bowling when play began and the length of his spell made it look as though he must be working his way back to full fitness.

Up to a point, he said. He had an operation earlier in the season to remove calcification from his knee, and long spells do help, but the main reason he bowled unchanged was that he was enjoying himself.

The same was not true of Sussex's spinners. Hemmings trapped Chris Adams and Tim O'Gorman, and Salisbury had Kim Barnett caught at short leg. Bowler and Karl Krikken were becalmed but did not sink until Eddie Giddins returned to the attack and had Bowler caught behind the wicket. That reduced the odds against a Sussex win, but there is still work to do tomorrow.