Cricket: Robinson discovers a fine line

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The Independent Online
Sussex 271 Derbyshire 226

SUSSEX DUG in here yesterday like a side who sensed they were on to a good thing. Mark Robinson's tight bowling, backed by highly efficient close catching, gave them a handy lead and even Chris Adams batted sedately as they built on it.

Derbyshire bowled rather better than they had batted, which was not difficult. They will need to find rather more self-discipline in the fourth innings, even though this pitch could well be at its most comfortable for batting by then.

Nearly every batsman yesterday had to plead guilty to failing to make the most of a decent start, none more so than Michael Slater. In such a transitional season Derbyshire no doubt expected him to nurse their batting along and influence their younger players, but in 17 Championship innings he has passed 40 only three times.

The memory of his marvellous, grafting 100 for Australia on a difficult pitch in Port of Spain last winter is probably still fresh in the minds of some locals; for Derbyshire, though, he has often paid the price for his excesses and here he was caught in the gully as he made room to cut.

He was batting down the order anyway because of an injured hand. His departure left the innings somewhat rudderless against Robinson who, with his excellent wicket-to-wicket approach, cramped one batsman after another and usually forced them into error.

Maybe he had one of those days when the good balls always found the edge. The chances certainly were snapped up, usually by Adams at slip. But Robinson will have enjoyed as much as anything the slower delivery which flummoxed Ben Spendlove and led to a diving catch at mid-on by the debutante Billy Taylor.

All this happened on a pitch which offered less movement than earlier but still did enough for bowlers who put the ball in the right place, as Robinson invariably did.

Richard Montgomorie discovered this when Phil DeFreitas got one to bounce more than most. To his next ball Wasim Khan offered minimal shuffling footwork and was lbw first ball for the second time in the match.