Cricket: Sussex errors marked on pad

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Sussex 204; Essex 1-0

PERHAPS one of the Sussex players will take a leaf out of Allan Lamb's book, and pop up with an article in the Brighton Evening Argus to explain how Essex do it. Something along the lines of: 'It's about time someone spoke out. These cads have found a way of making the ball home in on the batsman's pads, and in a clear breach of Law 36a (striker attempting to play the ball) the batsman keeps missing it.'

Essex made further significant strides towards retaining the County Championship here yesterday, not so much by bowling Sussex out for 204, as by lbw-ing them out. Remarkably, no less than eight of the home team's 10 wickets fell in this fashion, a feat not even approached when England's batsmen spent the summer of Blancoing Terry Alderman's red smudges out of their pads.

The umpires, Peter Wight and Ray Tolchard, saw Sussex off in a blur of index fingers, with Wight eventually finishing 5-3 in front. The two Sussex batsmen to break the mould were Franklyn Stephenson and Neil Lenham, although had Lenham (caught at short leg) not got a thin edge to the ball before his pad became involved, he might have been lbw as well. Eight lbws in an innings equals the record for a first-class match in England, Warwickshire versus Oxford University in 1980, but is believed to be the highest in more than 100 years of Championship cricket.

Essex are not as efficient a side as they were last season, and yet they are threatening to win the Championship a good deal more easily; evidence, perhaps, that the champagne is on ice in a non-vintage year. No one, however, plays the four-day game quite as well as they do, and victory here would make it six out of their last 10 over the longer distance. The only thing to spoil Essex's day was an injury to Nasser Hussain, who broke a finger in the field.

There was enough grass on the pitch to persuade Graham Gooch to field first, notwithstanding the presence of two spinners in his line-up, and the Sussex innings became a curious mixture of clatters. Throughout a day shorn by rain of 37 overs, both runs and wickets arrived in clusters.

Essex did not bowl particularly well to begin with, and Sussex were proceding with some comfort at 62 for 1 in late morning when Don Topley's innocuous- looking seamers precipitated a decline to 87 for 5 by lunch.

In the afternoon, it was Mark Illott, who has now augmented his stock left-arm away slant with the occasional one ducking back into the right-hander, who took the wickets, and the left-arm seamer finished with 5 for 60 on the eve of his 22nd birthday.

The other two wickets fell to Peter Such and Gooch, and Essex finally completed the job without any assistance at all from their premier bowler. Derek Pringle rarely looked like taking a wicket, and when he did manage to knock back Martin Speight's off-stump, Tolchard was busy signalling a no-ball. If Essex collected as many points as Pringle bowled no-balls in a summer, they would have received the pennant sometime back in June.

Sussex's total would have been a good bit grimmer without a fine innings from their wicketkeeper, Peter Moores, who scored 73 off 117 balls (11 fours and a six off Pringle) and who marshalled a fightback that produced 74 from the last two wickets. Moores has done this sort of thing to Essex before, scoring a century against them at Southend a month ago. Essex won by eight wickets.