Cricket round-up: Crawley looks to play the right role

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The Independent Online
ILLINGWORTH'S List might yet be the big box-office draw of the early summer, even if we are still trying desperately to work out who the members of the cast might be. The stars are probably obvious but the supporting roles, as the director has indicated, remain open.

Still, some are more likely to be hired than others and the word is, though not necessarily from Illy, that Lancashire's John Crawley is being groomed for stardom in the shape of the number three position in the Test team. This usually has the effect that speaking the name of the Scottish Play is supposed to have on actors. It might also explain why Crawley is opening in the present match against Yorkshire at Old Trafford, although practice at first wicket down might have more appeal to the selectors.

Crawley, however, performed the most important part of his brief by coming up with some runs. It was significant, even in a friendly match, that he made his second innings 77 against an attack including Darren Gough, another possibly on the List. Gough, too, had earlier done his credentials no harm by ensuring that Yorkshire avoided the follow-on and finished a mere 79 behind Lancashire's 354. Bowler he might be, but Illingworth is adamant that the England side will no longer contain four number 11 batsmen.

With all this speculation, the New Zealanders have slipped in to the country almost unnoticed. Having beaten England Amateurs in their first match, they continue their warm-up at Arundel today against the Duchess of Norfolk's XI. Martin Crowe, their erstwhile captain, will be there, knee injury permitting. Never mind the captaincy, he said yesterday, 'because it will be a real handful just getting out on the pitch.'

This is the sort of line that Australasian cricketers have been trotting out for years on tours of England both to elicit sympathy and lull England into the belief that they might win a Test series. He said he was crossing his fingers that there would not be more damage. If he could hurt his fingers as well as his knee, England might well have a chance. There was a big alarm for Illy in mid-afternoon at Fenner's, as Middlesex fell to 151 for seven against Cambridge University. As the Universities are generally thought to be woeful in first-class terms and Middlesex are the county champions this is not the sort of news a chairman of selectors wants to hear. John Carr, surely not one to be listed, pulled things round for the visiting county with a half century.

The team that may bother Illingworth and his men least, the universities apart, are probably Durham. But they have confounded all observers for three days against Derbyshire. Having made the sort of total that might have persuaded the opposition to replace the ball and a get a new one into play through a hole in their trouser pocket, they then forced the follow-on at Chesterfield. Chris Adams, a stylish, crisp stroke player, averted further disaster with a handsome 91.

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