CRICKET: Maidens stand firm

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The Independent Online
Sussex 552-8 dec

Durham 159 & 324-9

Durham's resistance came a little late in what had previously seemed a mismatch against Sussex. However, it finally arrived in the shape of an extraordinary unbroken last-wicket stand of 101 between Melvyn Betts and David Cox.

Both made maiden half-centuries as they beat the county's record 10th- wicket partnership of 70, and also virtually removed the threat of emulating Durham's heaviest first-class defeat.

On a pitch still perfect for batting, their efforts left the senior batsmen (except for Sherwin Campbell) shame-faced as a total of 324 for nine was salvaged from the wreckage of 50 for five, when rain halted play an over before Sussex could claim the extra half-hour. At 185 for eight, Durham still need three runs to avoid a heavier thrashing than the defeat by an innings and 205 which they suffered at the Oval in Ian Botham's final Championship appearance in 1992.

They were still 69 adrift at the close, but it seemed almost respectable after they had earlier contrived to make the brisk swing bowling of the 20-year-old all-rounder, Danny Law, look almost unplayable. While Ian Salisbury had had a spell of 5 for 0 in 18 balls on Friday, Law claimed 5 for 0 in 25 deliveries yesterday, as he set about improving his career- best figures for the second successive match.

Law took five for 62 against Kent and is rapidly maturing along predicted lines, but even he suffered at the hands of Cox and Betts, while Salisbury was pulled and driven to distraction.

Neither John Morris, lbw second ball, nor Paul Collingwood, caught behind, appeared happy with Mervyn Kitchen's decisions, but the umpire could not be faulted in turning down two big lbw appeals during the frustrating last-wicket stand.