Cricket / Sunday League: Wasim's rapid response

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The Independent Online
Lancashire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .229-7

Durham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .217-6

Lancashire win by 12 runs

WASIM AKRAM, who has played in 17 countries since last March, shrugged off reports of serious back strain with an effervescent bowling performance that brought a first Sunday League victory before a 6,000 crowd.

For a man who was quoted as saying he 'was tired of cricket' last week, Wasim looked in smiling good spirits and form, much to the relief of the Lancashire committee.

The pace of the Pakistan captain, backed by some tight support bowling, notably from Phillip DeFreitas, proved decisive after Durham, needing 78 off 15 overs with seven wickets standing, lost Ian Smith and Ian Botham in successive overs. Phil Bainbridge and the Durham middle order were unable to sustain the required rate.

Mike Atherton scored almost half Lancashire's runs. His 96 in 44 overs, following two first- class centuries, confirmed his role of anchorman. He is in form, more so than most of his team-mates, although all Lancashire's batting tactics were upset by a finger injury to Nick Speak in Anderson Cummins's second over.

On a pitch harder and quicker than might be expected in May, Cummins made an impressive start, his smooth, polished action occasionally producing steep bounce.

Unfortunately none of Lancashire's accelerators, Fairbrother, Lloyd, Wasim, Watkinson and DeFreitas, raised more than 30 runs. They were constrained by some measured Durham bowling, supported by high-class fielding and catching.