Cricket: Stephenson puts Sussex back in race

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The Independent Online
Leicestershire 192 and 90

Sussex 247 and 37-1

Sussex win by 9 wickets

THE expletive or two that earned Alan Mullally a reprimand from umpire Ray Julian was probably repeated by most of his colleagues in the privacy of the dressing room as Leicestershire's world fell apart here yesterday. As Lady Bracknell would have put it, to bat badly once might be unfortunate; to do so twice smacks of downright carelessness.

A basically decent pitch, on which the odd ball would move off the seam or bounce a bit variably, could not quite explain why both sides gave so many wickets away. More than likely it had something to do with the tension felt by two teams not exactly accustomed to winning Championships.

This, plus lingering disappointment at their first innings inadequacies, was probably the explanation for Leicestershire's over-the-top performance in the field. Their irritation began when David Millns thought that Neil Lenham had been caught behind at 34 and frustration increased when Lenham was bowled by what proved to be a no-ball from Vince Wells.

It was when Mullally directed his remarks at the Sussex captain, Alan Wells, that umpire Julian stepped in. He lectured the bowler and also told his captain, Nigel Briers, that enough was enough. Having dealt with the incident then, Julian will not make an official report. Leicestershire like to think of themselves as a combative side, which is to their credit, but there are limits.

Sussex had set out their stall to make 350, but having gone ahead with half their wickets left nose-dived in the afternoon session when eight batsmen went for 95. This owed something to Leicestershire bowling with more discipline, though Sussex, reared on the flat pitches of Hove, were never quite the same after both Martn Speight and Wells were undone on the back foot by balls that bounced negligibly.

Phil Simmons, with three for 26, had done much to haul his side back into contention with his accuracy and deceptive pace. Alas, just when a long and preferably patient innings from him was urgently needed he perished to a ridiculously ambitious stroke off Paul Jarvis, and that was after being dropped before he had scored.

The unlucky bowler was Franklyn Stephenson, but not for long. Using the new ball superbly, he reeled off 16 overs full of guile, movement and bounce. By the time his team warmly applauded him off the game was virtually over and Leicestershire's gloom was complete.

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