Cricket: Fireworks dampened by Walsh

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The Independent Online
Gloucestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .319-8 dec and 159-9 dec

Sussex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180 and 85-2

Match drawn

THE SCRIPT sounded promising, just over a day lost to the weather but the potential for a few fireworks on the final afternoon. The problem, though, was someone forgot their lines with the result that the curtain came down on the tamest of draws. You wonder sometimes where it all goes wrong.

Gloucestershire, for example, really had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Having beaten Somerset on the back of an 11-wicket haul from Courtney Walsh, there was now a chance for the county to put together their first back-to-back victories at the start of the Championship in 63 years.

Chris Broad, after all, had opened by taking a century off Sussex, while Walsh accounted for five more victims on Saturday. All of which left Gloucestershire, two down and with a lead of 178 at the start of play yesterday, in the decision-making seat.

However, when six wickets disappeared for 55 before lunch - Peter Moores taking his total of catches in the match to eight to equal the Sussex wicketkeeping record he already shares - the fear factor entered the equation.

Do you play safe or go for broke? In this instance, Sussex made life easier in the second session by not reintroducing Franklyn Stephenson, who earlier had looked distinctly sharp, into the attack. Walsh's response as captain, meanwhile, was to allow the innings to drag on until he had a lead of 300.

Such caution from the West Indian wicket-taker was difficult to fathom and it was no surprise that, with only a minimum of 50 overs remaining, the normally adventurous Sussex were not the least bit interested in the chase.

Gloucestershire's main sponsor, Tetley's, has offered the club pounds 25,000 should they win either of the main one-day competitions this year.

(Photograph omitted)

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