Cricket: Lewry strikes back

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DURHAM'S REMARKABLE charge up the County Championship table was dramatically halted at the Riverside yesterday as they lost to Sussex by just eight runs chasing 283 for victory.

Durham have never beaten Sussex, losing six of their seven meetings. Experiencing their best form since becoming a first-class county in 1992, the defeat against lowly Glamorgan last week ended a run of three straight wins.

Resuming on 153 for 4 with the opener James Daley unbeaten on 49, David Boon's side had a good chance to rediscover their winning touch in the Australian's last season.

After a delayed start, nightwatchman Neil Killeen was eventually caught behind after lunch but Paul Collingwood made a half-century, adding 46 with Daley for the sixth wicket before the latter was lbw to Mark Robinson for 80, his vigil having lasted 322 minutes.

Martin Speight and Nicky Phillips made little impression against their old club but Simon Brown kept the hosts' hopes alive in a stubborn stand of 28 for the ninth wicket.

Jason Lewry had been wayward early on and overstepped repeatedly, but the left-arm seamer atoned by bowling Collingwood and then Brown to end up with 5 for 86.

Essex, who have not won at Canterbury for 15 years, managed to avoid a repeat of their innings defeat there last time, but not by much. Following on 191 runs behind, they began the day on a precarious 38 for 3, and though they recovered bravely through the Australian all-rounder Stuart Law, they left Kent with a target of 53.

They duly completed their victory, by seven wickets, in 12.2 overs. Unbeaten in seven games, they are now second in the Championship table.

Law and the acting captain, Ronnie Irani, added a further 89 runs before the visitors suffered a double blow on the stroke of lunch. Irani was run out by Julian Thompson and his opposite number, Matthew Fleming, then had Stephen Peters caught behind.

Barry Hyam helped Law to add 40, but Martin McCague struck with 3 for 10 in 22 balls. After a spirited last-wicket stand with Ricky Anderson, Law was left stranded on 104. His century came off 237 balls and included 11 fours.

A combination of bad light and rain conspired to prevent any play between Leicestershire and Warwickshire at Grace Road. Dominic Ostler is therefore still 17 runs away from his first Championship century since June 1995.

With his contract up at the end of the season and having been refused benefit, a century would ease the pressure on Ostler. There are two days left and this match may actually reach the fourth day, which would be rather a novelty in this season's Championship.