Cricket: Crawley ripe for call

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The Independent Online
Lancashire 359 and 195-4

Glamorgan 238

IT WAS one of those days ripe for gently nudging the England captain, but John Crawley instead seized the opportunity to dig his county colleague Mike Atherton hard in the ribs.

The Crawley-for-England lobby is as strong as ever and his sweet innings yesterday will have further quietened his detractors. He has the elegant flourish that often defines the rare quality of genuine class and an England debut at Old Trafford next week would satisfy both the romantics and the pragmatists.

His footwork was nimble and assured, while on the back foot and off his legs, his timing was impeccable. The Colwyn Bay wicket produced few real problems, but after runs came readily in the morning, only Crawley really capitalised later in the day. Indeed, it took Neil Fairbrother 56 balls to score his first run.

The Glamorgan captain, Hugh Morris, must still be wondering whether Crawley would have had quite such a comfortable passage had Steve Watkin continued his spell after the lunch break. The pace man's wayward initial deliveries helped Atherton and Steve Titchard make hay, reaching their 50 partnership in only the ninth over. Steve Barwick temporarily stemmed that flow and Watkin changed ends, pitched the ball further up and duly accounted for both openers shortly before lunch.

Titchard fell in the 16th over, caught behind off a defensive poke, while Watkin did his own spot of nudging when he trapped Atherton lbw.

Crawley's shots flowed freely after lunch, including two straight sixes chasing the disappearing tide into the bay. After tea, Crawley was visibly surprised to see the umpire's finger go up as he pushed well forward to Roland Lefebvre. His departure for 83 signalled the arrival of persistent drizzle with the loss of nearly 24 overs, although that should not hinder Lancashire's progress unduly.

The home side had earlier avoided the follow-on with some gutsy counter-attack. Their wicketkeeper, Colin Metson, nicked the vital 19th run with a four through the slips after Glen Chapple had completed his first five-wicket Championship haul with Glamorgan still needing five runs. The seamer Ian Austin quickly mopped up the tail within seven balls.

Robert Cunliffe hit a maiden century for Gloucestershire as they punished a below-strength Cambridge University attack at Bristol yesterday. Without top bowler Chris Pitcher, the students were on the wrong end of a scoreline of 220 for two by tea. England Under-19 international Cunliffe struck a dozen fours in reaching his hundred off 194 balls.

(Photograph omitted)