Cricket: Crawley's flourish topples tourists

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The Independent Online
Australians 282-3 dec and 194-8 dec

Lancashire 250-7 dec and 228-5

Lancashire win by five wickets

THE alternative Lancashire opener, not the England captain, made a deep impression on Australian bowling figures yesterday. John Crawley, stepping into Michael Atherton's stud marks, scored a dashing hundred to inflict a first defeat on the tourists in the Tetley Bitter Challenge.

Overall, the Australians had won 14 and drawn seven of their previous 22 games, losing only to Northamptonshire on faster-scoring rate in a one- day match severely curtailed by rain.

This time, they were beaten fairly, squarely and breathlessly, the winning runs coming with four balls to spare after Lancashire were challenged to make 227 from a minimum of 39 overs, which became 61 through the burning necessity to employ the spinners.

Michael Watkinson hoisted Tim May for six over midwicket to complete a victory which banished the haunting memory of three consecutive Championship defeats. It was also Lancashire's first win over the Australians since 1972.

Crawley, at 21, the youngest of three brothers to play the first-class game, batted like a prince, until spooning a catch when the run chase became more insistent with 31 needed from five overs.

Crisp cover drives, pulls and sweeps hurried from Crawley's bat and his running between the wickets had the distinctive sharpness of youth and ambition. His hundred, from 171 balls, with 10 fours, was perfectly paced and deservedly brought the man of the match award. Crawley played the game's finest innings against the best bowlers when batting conditions were at their worst.

The ball turned for Shane Warne, as it invariably does, after the Australians' declaration erred on the generous side. Matthew Hayden made his second half-century of the match, thankfully without the encouragement of joke bowling which has brought the three-day game into such disrepute.

Alex Barnett returned 4 for 83 to confirm his growing credentials but these were just preliminary skirmishes. Crawley completed 1,000 first-class runs this summer, sharing an opening partnership of 81 with Gehan Mendis. Nick Speak, with 39 not out, also played an important role but the day belonged to Crawley.

Lancashire needed 82 from the final hour's allocation of 16 overs and 59 from the last 10 but Watkinson's flourish finished a job well done.

The Australian referee, Peter Burge, has severely reprimanded the Indian batsman, Vinod Kambli, for showing dissent at a Sri Lankan umpire for ruling him out on the third day of the second Test in Colombo.