Cricket: Newells the jewel for Sussex

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Sussex 258-7 Worcestershire 155 Sussex win by 103 runs

THE CENTREPIECE of a curious AXA League match was a splendid partnership of 181 for Sussex's second wicket between the Newell brothers, Keith and Mark. They took them to a total which was well beyond the Worcestershire batsmen on a benign enough pitch.

The drama for the Newell brothers only began with these bare facts. Wearing Sussex's mustard yellow outfit topped with a crash helmet, they were difficult to tell apart. There were times when even the Sussex scorer was puzzled, to say nothing of the scoreboard operators.

Keith, who is 21 months older than Mark, opened the innings and, after being dropped three times, appeared to reach his 100 in the 32nd over. One run later the display of brotherly love broke down and Mark was run out attempting a leg bye for, as the scoreboard told us, 72.

One run later, Keith drove Graeme Hick to midwicket and departed to ringing applause with 103 against his name. But a six he had hit to wide mid-on off Hick, and which was originally signalled as such, had been resignalled as a four and this was not spotted until later and so his 103 became 101.

At the ending of the innings the scorers had a recount and came up with the surprising statistics that Keith had in reality made only 97, while his brother's score was 77, and the partnership had, reasonably enough, come back from 183 to 181. The only inescapable fact is that this was the highest stand for Sussex by two brothers against Worcestershire at New Road in a Sunday League match played on a Tuesday.

Maybe it was a case of divine intervention for no longer rendering unto to Sunday the things that are Sunday's. For all that, the Newells played some lovely strokes against some pretty ordinary Worcestershire bowling. The brothers despatched long hops and full tosses to the boundary, almost invariably finding the gaps between the fielders, and both reached their highest score in the competition before the middle order collapsed against the off-spin of Hick.

The Worcestershire batsmen were never able to make sufficient headway against steady Sussex bowling well managed by their acting captain, Mike Bevan. Keith Newell made up for some of the disappointment of missing his 100 by picking up four wickets at medium pace and Sussex, who lost their first three AXA games, have now won their last two in what is turning out to be quite a season for them.