Cricket: Feisty Fairbrother fares well

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The Independent Online
Lancashire 399-8 v Yorkshire

MARTYN MOXON believes there will be a result in the 232nd Roses match, the pitch helping the bowlers increasingly. After losing the toss for the 10th time in 14 Championship matches, Yorkshire's captain might have to concede that the only winners will be Lancashire.

Rarely have the two northern giants been so lacking in esteem when meeting. Lancashire are only seven points clear of Yorkshire, who are 16th in the table. Lancashire know they will have Wasim Akram back next year to stir interest; Yorkshire are now not sure what to do.

Signing Sachin Tendulkar was a public relations triumph but his batting performances have been steady rather than spectacular and India's claims on him are such that he might be available for only 10 weeks of the next two seasons. The Cricket Sub-committee may recommend signing a bowler but, Aqib Javed apart, is there one available of sufficient stature both to rouse the public and persuade Yorkshire TV to continue their pounds 30,000 a year sponsorship?

Lancashire, meanwhile, have been complaining that their new, rock-hard square at Old Trafford makes a result impossible in three days. What it is doing, however, is breeding a school of confident, hard-hitting, fast-scoring batsmen, as Speak, Lloyd and Fairbrother all demonstrated yesterday after Paul Jarvis had removed both openers for 23.

Speak had an edgy (literally) beginning but he and Lloyd, who battered the spinners, nevertheless added 85 in 25 overs, laying a foundation for Fairbrother to hit his highest score of the season. Not until he had reached 80 did Lancashire's captain offer a chance at mid-on. He then spent 14 overs moving from 84 to 103, celebrating by lifting Phil Carrick for 6,6,4. His third 50 came off 43 balls, he hit five sixes, 18 fours and led Lancashire to their highest total at Headingley since 1948. England will be interested to hear how Phil DeFreitas fares on this pitch today.

On a warm but breezy day only 3,500 attended but the Tykes have other things in mind. Around 30,000 will watch Leeds United today and a similar number are demanding a restoration of the Ridings, established in 876, abolished in 1973. No wonder Tendulkar occasionally looks puzzled.

Joey Benjamin improved his career-best bowling figures for Surrey for the second time in 16 days when he took 6 for 30 against Durham at Durham University yesterday. Durham were dismissed for 189 in only 46.3 overs. Alistair Brown finished unbeaten on 120 as Surrey reached 269 for 5.

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