Cricket: Crawley flies in face of tradition

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The Independent Online
Lancashire 455-8 v Yorkshire

OF ALL the games in all the world the Roses match, and this is the 232nd, has never been like this. Years of grudging attrition and mean bowling were cast aside here yesterday when Lancashire, led by John Crawley's fourth three-figure score in five innings, took a savage toll of Yorkshire's inexperienced attack and established a firm grip on the game.

Far from there being "no fours before lunch" as tradition has it, Lancashire hit no fewer than 25 of them, with a couple of sixes thrown in, as they amassed 190 from 34 overs in the helter-skelter morning session when Yorkshire struggled to put two successive deliveries in the same place.

It was a salutary experience for all concerned, not least for Matthew Hoggard, 21, a highly promising fast-medium bowler who, maybe because it was his Roses debut, was perhaps a shade nervous, maybe trying a touch too hard or simply, like many fast bowlers before him, just found it difficult to come in down the slope from the Kirkstall Lane end.

His first four overs disappeared for 48 runs. They included a generous supply of no balls, one of which Crawley carved for six over third man; between the carnage, though, there was enough to suggest that Lancashire can watch out for Hoggard in the future.

Yorkshire's problems did not end there. Paul Hutchison found it hard to locate the right line and Gavin Hamilton had one of those mornings when he was either too short or too full.

For all that, it all added up to riotous entertainment on a pitch that had already been used for the South Africans' one-day game on Wednesday. This persuaded both sides to field a balanced attack - which, is three seamers and two spinners and not, you might think after recent events, three seamers and two umpires - and the slow bowlers got the ball to grip before the end.

By then Lancashire's only cause for concern was their batsmen getting themselves out by attempting too much too soon; among them was Andrew Flintoff, who was caught off the splice after making 16 from 13 balls fairly effortlessly.

Crawley made no such error. He elegantly confirmed his admirable appetite for making big scores but even he could have gone at 55 when David Byas could not hold an awkward slip chance off Hoggard, who was then finding life slightly less frustrating at the other end.