Cricket: Smith and Lara build winning platform

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Warwickshire 236-8 Sussex 229-6 Warwickshire win by 7 runs

ALTHOUGH THE term `pinch hitter' was inaccurately borrowed from baseball it has now established its cricketing meaning, and few players pinch their hits better than Warwickshire's Neil Smith. Not for him the languid elegance of classical correctness - he trades in brutal but effective short-arm jabs. In partnership with his skipper Brian Lara he put on 126 in 21 overs, creating the platform for a potentially daunting total.

Until yesterday Lara's best contribution to the Sunday game this season has been 15, but he showed glimpses of his eminence yesterday, as much in the subtle dabs into gaps around the wicket as in his seven boundaries.

However Sussex, who are transformed every Sunday into the Sharks and take the field to the theme music from Jaws, kept their heads and towards the end of the Warwickshire innings the experience of Paul Jarvis told in what was comfortably Sussex's most economic analysis. Brakes were applied and Warwickshire - who trade at the Bears on the sabbath - decelerated, setting just under a run a ball when at least seven an over had once seemed likely.

Sussex, however, are over dependent on their two star batsmen, captain Chris Adams and Michael Bevan, in this form of cricket.

Alas, for the home side Adams, who contributed a defiant 79 in a losing cause to the Championship fixture between these sides, dazzled too briefly, castled by a Gladstone Small skidder. And while Bevan made his first Sunday League 50 for Sussex at little more than a run a ball, he needed to be around longer to shepherd the tail.

The tall left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, bowling with precision, claimed his wicket as the Australian tried to run the ball to third man, and when Toby Peirce followed with a second-ball duck, Sussex's back seemed broken. James Carpenter and Jarvis batted with great spirit almost to the very end, however, and caused a few late jitters to decide who had been in charge for most of the game.