Cricket: Morris keeps a level head

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The Independent Online
Sussex 373 and 271 Durham 338 and 269-8 Match drawn

In another thrilling finish at the Riverside Ground, Durham and Sussex drew their Championship fixture after a tense final session. At the close Durham stood at 269 for 8 - just 38 short of their victory target of 307. The Durham tailenders Simon Brown and Martin Saggers negotiated safely the final tense overs as the Sussex attack, principally led by West Indian Vasbert Drakes, threw everything at them. Somehow they survived to frustrate Sussex, who themselves were searching for their first Championship victory.

The outstanding performance of the day belonged to the former England middle order batsman John Morris who set up a possible Durham victory with a marvellous innings of 124, his second century in consecutive Championship matches, which came off 207 balls with 13 fours and a six.

Sussex's efforts were all the more commendable considering the attack was missing the strike bowler, Paul Jarvis, who had been sidelined by an achilles tendon injury. However, Drakes was ably supported by Mark Robinson who secured the valuable wicket of David Boon with his side still needing another 173 for victory.

Morris and Martin Speight, obviously pleased to be competing in a tight finish against his former employers, added 76 but, with Durham on 210, Speight was run out coming back for a risky second. It soon became 230 for 6 as Michael Foster played a foolish shot to be bowled by the leg- spinner, Amer Khan, whose marathon spell revealed consistent accuracy.

The possibility of a Sussex win grew stronger when the hostile Drakes had Melvyn Betts caught behind plunging Durham to 247 for 7. Twelve runs later, Sussex seized the wicket they wanted most - that of Morris. His delightful innings ended on 124 when he thrashed Khan into the deep where Drakes completed the catch on the boundary.

Durham's run chase had begun badly, and once again the former skipper, Mike Roseberry, failed. On his return to the side, he followed his nought in the first innings with just one as he was lbw to Drakes. The West Indian quick bowler also removed Durham's other opener, Jonathan Lewis, putting Sussex in a strong position as Durham wobbled on 38 for 2.

Earlier, Sussex were dismissed for 271 in their second innings as they lost their last two wickets both of whom, Khan and Peter Moores, fell to Alan Walker. The Durham seamer, who appeared in only three Championship fixtures last year, taking 2 for 277, finished with 6 for 68 and he returned another fine set of figures this season. Against Nottinghamshire at Hartlepool Walker had taken seven wickets.