Cricket: Russell in the old routine

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The Independent Online
Gloucestershire 291-8 v Sussex

There is no better county ground than Hove and this was a deliciously typical day. The seagulls screeched, the pitch had enough in it to keep the seam bowlers interested and Sussex became the next in a long line of counties to be thwarted by Jack Russell with the bat.

Far from being demoralised by their defeat in the NatWest semi-final, Sussex bowled and fielded like a side which scented Championship points even if their only purpose is to keep them from the foot of the table.

After winning the toss, Gloucestershire, who are third in the table, found themselves at 119 for 5 in mid-afternoon and Sussex's newest seam bowling recruit, Alex Edwards, had made an excellent impression. He had picked up two good wickets and a splendid diving catch at mid-on after the ball had ricocheted off the bowler.

He typified the great spirit of enthusiasm which embraces Hove in spite of all Sussex's tribulations.

This stems most of all from the Committee Room where the new chairman, the former captain, off-spinner and ever-ebullient Robin Marlar, presides like some modern day benevolent despot, dedicated to rebuilding Sussex cricket.

A Committee Room which boasts portraits and photographs of Ranji, Duleep, C B Fry and Sir Charles Aubrey Smith, speaks of the rich tradition which Sussex must try and live up to.

When sea fret came down after lunch, an elderly and distinguished member said quite clearly: "Put Maurice Tate on at once." Maurice Tate bowled his last over for Sussex in 1937. It was that sort of a day.

Gloucestershire reached 32 when Matthew Windows drove all round one which came back at him. Nick Trainor then pushed forward to Amer Khan (leg breaks) and was caught behind. And Matthew Church straight-drove Khan who went for a high catch tipping it over the bar and Edwards reacted fast at mid- on.

After lunch, Tim Hancock square-cut Edwards to backward point and Mark Alleyne was bowled off the inside edge driving at Mark Robinson. On his 34th birthday, Russell then established squatters rights at one end, nudging and nurdling in his usual way.

At the other, Robert Dawson played some pleasant strokes, especially off the front foot, against bowlers who slightly lost heart. Dawson and Russell had put on 120 when Russell was lbw half forward to one which Robinson brought back into him.

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