Cricket: Defiant Adams steadies Sussex

Sussex v Warwickshire
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CHRIS ADAMS always bats as if the opposition are sworn enemies, with a determination to separate the core of the ball from its leather casing. For a glorious while yesterday he added defiance to his unquenchable pugnacity, and in partnership with Michael Bevan set about denying Warwickshire the win that on Friday evening had been a formality.

Alas for Sussex, who really do seem in good spirit this season, with the problem of the winter before last well behind them, his combative nature eventually overruled discretion. Neil Smith returned to the attack in mid- afternoon, pushed a brisk off break down the Hove hill, and Adams attempted to put it into Cromwell Road. But he neglected to hit the ball, and his contribution to the entertainment was over.

It was sweet revenge for Smith, who earlier in the day had seen successive balls to Adams go into orbit over his head for a big six and a one-bounce four. It had been the Sussex captain's reaction to an orchestrated appeal the previous ball, for a catch that had clearly ballooned harmlessly off the pad, a tactic that Warwickshire were over-eager to employ.

Early Sussex resistance was organised by the left handed opener Toby Peirce, who had been the only batsmen to stand firm in the first innings as the follow on loomed. Adams took up the challenge, before handing it on to Bevan, with whom he had added 118 in 27 overs.

The Australian Test player had given Sussex only a couple of good scores previously, though he has been taking wickets with his unique spin cocktail of yorkers and long hops. He has a habit of whipping his bat across his pads, which can leave him vulnerable - he was a decidedly reluctant lbw victim in the first innings - but otherwise he has the technique and cussedness for a big innings.

Whether the Sussex lower order could match these qualities was the question yesterday afternoon. Warwickshire desperately needed a win, and to deny them would have been a victory in itself. But James Carpenter is quagmired in a ghastly run of form, while Alex Edwards was needlessly run out at the non-striker's end, scampering for an illusory run. And in Mark Robinson Sussex have a man who is flattered by being asked to bat as high as number eleven.

Ed Giddins has bowled with determination and pace on his return to play against the county who sacked him so swiftly when he failed a drugs test two years ago. But yesterday, on a wearing wicket, it was inevitable that the spinners would have their say. While Smith nipped in for brief twirls, Ashley Giles settled in for an attritional spell at the Sea End, as Warwickshire strove to defeat Bevan and the Sussex tail. But the crucial breakthrough happened when Giles switched to downhill, persuading Bevan to stretch and snick.

The resistance should have been over with nine wickets down, since Robinson sports a career batting average of 3.90. But as the overs ticked away and eight fielders crowded the bat, Robinson and James Kirtley took the game down to the wire.

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