Cricket: Rain restricts opportunity for reaching results

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The Independent Online
IT WAS grim up north yesterday. No play was possible before lunch in any of the championship games being played north of the Watford Gap; the rain that had been so confidently forecast by John Kettley and Co to appear on Friday duly turned up a day late. Play was eventually abandoned altogether at Trent Bridge and Old Trafford. Not only did the weather rob those who could bear to drag themselves away from the Olympics and the Test match of a full day's live cricket, but also effectively killed off the possibility of 'natural', uncontrived results in those games being reached on Monday.

Durham, whose season had started with some bright spells but has clouded over somewhat since the departure of Dean Jones, will not have been overly disturbed by the interruption of the weather. Having been torn apart by Allan Donald's seven wickets on Friday they stand in danger of being overrun by an in-form Warwickshire side.

When play resumed, half centuries from Andy Moles and Andy Lloyd quickly overhauled Durham's humble first-innings total of 136 and set up the prospect of a substantial match-winning lead, in spite of all the overs lost. It seems that Durham will need to rely on further divine intervention if they are to emerge from this game unbeaten. Whether it comes in the form of rain or Ian Botham, they are unlikely to be choosy.

The skies were only a shade brighter down south where pitch inspections also formed the highlight of the entertainment early on.

On a slow, grass-covered wicket at Canterbury, Kent's batsmen made heavy weather at the outset. After Hampshire's Jonathan Ayling had exploited conditions ideally suited to his seamers to take three top-order batsmen, the all-rounder Matthew Fleming lent some respectability to the scoreline and allowed an unlikely declaration, by striking an unbeaten century from just 127 balls. When play was possible at Eastbourne, Neil Lenham and Carlos Remy gave Sussex a good start in reply to Derbyshire's first innings 248.

They put on 82 for the first wicket before they were removed by Frank Griffith and Ian Bishop respectively. Their dismissals precipitated a sharp collapse that made a nonsense of their efforts, as they slumped to 230 all out against Derbyshire's formidable seam attack.

Ian Salisbury, the England and Sussex leg-spinner is one of five players in the running for the Cricket Writers' Club Young Cricketer of the Year award. The other nominees are Lancashire's John Crawley, Mark Lathwell from Somerset, plus Roger Twose and Keith Piper of Warwickshire.

Candidates must be under 23 at the start of the season and qualified to play for England. The winner will be announced at the annual CWC dinner at Lord's on 4 September.