Cricket: Leaders gel as Wells fells rivals

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The Independent Online
Northamptonshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .214

Sussex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .217-5

Sussex win by 5 wickets

WITH most things being equal, something had to give and the Sunday league high-flyers from Sussex maintained a share of the leadership when they sailed home here yesterday on the back of a steadfast unbeaten 92 from Alan Wells. Northamptonshire, for their part, never quite recovered from a shaky start.

The protagonists were tied together in more ways than one, both hitherto unbeaten and having been involved in ties. What separated them now, and saw Sussex finish as the only unbeaten side in the 50-over competition, was good quick bowling and cool batting.

Having won the toss and chosen to chase, at 17 for 2 and with another 198 needed Sussex required a big innings or two. David Smith and Franklyn Stephenson already had a century and a couple of half-century opening stands behind them but on this occasion Smith was left to spearhead the assault.

He had made his third Sunday fifty before Nick Cook took him out and at 87 for 3 it was Wells and Keith Greenfield who settled the issue by adding 95 for the fourth wicket in 18 overs. From then on, there was never much doubt about it, Wells facing 117 balls and restricting himself to just five boundaries.

A few rockets from Stephenson at the start of the Northamptonshire innings threatened to propel Sussex to a rather swifter victory, the Barbadian whistling out Nigel Felton in the first over and Alan Fordham in his third. At two for 2, Northamptonshire breathed a sigh of relief when Alan Lamb, yet to score, survived a confident lbw appeal from Stephenson.

At least Lamb's good fortune made a match of it. Not until the eighth over did the score creep into double figures, but he and Rob Bailey flourished, forging the only century stand of the day before the last five wickets went down for 18 in 20 balls.

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