Cricket: Gower's two-year contract

DAVID GOWER, his optimism undimmed by recent events, vowed to regain his England place for next summer's Ashes series against Australia after signing a two-year contract with Hampshire yesterday, writes Paul Trow.

England's most productive Test batsman, controversially omitted for the winter trip to India, said: 'I have a good record against Australia, but that in itself is not enough. I will have to be at the top of the list making runs for Hampshire.'

Meanwhile, his county colleagues thwarted an unlikely Worcestershire win at Southampton as the curtain came down on the 1992 season. Steve Rhodes, with 107, and Stuart Lampitt added 166 for the fifth wicket, but the visitors ended 11 runs short. That near miss consigned Worcestershire to 17th place, propped up only by Durham who suffered the 10th defeat of their inaugural Championship campaign, against Lancashire at Gateshead Fell. Despite teenager Jimmy Daley's unbeaten 80, they lost by 10 wickets with the England paceman, Phil DeFreitas, returning a summer-best 6 for 94.

Ian Salisbury, England's discarded leg-spinner, had career-best match figures of 12 for 138 as Sussex beat Yorkshire by six wickets at Hove. Robert Croft, another England reject, though of the A tour variety, spun Glamorgan to a 63- run win over Derbyshire at Cardiff with six wickets in 45 balls.

Surrey were eight runs short, with one wicket remaining, in an exciting finish against Middlesex at The Oval after Mike Gatting, the visiting captain, had reached 2,000 runs for the season. Kent took only 54 minutes to seal second place, beating Warwickshire at Edgbaston by an innings and 143 runs. Somerset had an even larger win over Nottinghamshire at Taunton.

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