Cricket: Sussex fall to turning wicket

By John Collis
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The Independent Online
IN THE minds of the Sussex batsmen, trying with increasing desperation to stretch their innings long enough to secure a draw, this benign old Horsham wicket was transformed into a spitting cobra yesterday afternoon.

Derbyshire encouraged the impression, clinging on to the old ball, turning Phillip DeFreitas into a spinner, asking Kim Barnett to turn his very occasional arm, crowding round the bat and shouting like Sunday morning footballers. The vast shape of the helmeted Adrian Rollins crouched at the batsmen's shoulder was threatening. The impression was increasingly accurate, and the surface at long last developed bare, uneven patches at both ends, but the game was also being played in the head.

For most of the morning it looked as if Sussex could survive. Their signing from Warwickshire, Wasim Khan - who seems a very shrewd purchase indeed - moved serenely to his fifth first-class century, the first for his new county. But he could not resist Barnett's sucker ball and Rollins, at this stage carefully positioned on the midwicket boundary, caught the hoick with ease.

Michael Bevan also eased himself to the three-figure mark, and it was now his job to bat on and on, nursing Sussex beyond tea and towards safety. Instead, he danced at the spinner Simon Lacey once too often, played around what could have been the first significantly turning ball of the game and departed.

This, indeed, was the turning point in both senses. Paul Jarvis, the most experienced campaigner in the Sussex bottom half, preferred power to prudence, and having clubbed one six perished trying another.

After Bevan the last six Sussex wickets were surrendered for 49 runs, mainly to the vultures around the bat. The left-armer Ian Blackwell took the last three, and a pitch that for three days had been a spinners' graveyard had indeed changed, rewarding the twirly men eight times in succession. Derbyshire needed 107 to win and no matter how much Sussex loitered, the ration of overs would not be a problem.

Even when facing defeat, there is pride to be gained from making the life of one's opponents as difficult as possible. Bevan and Amer Khan were soon exploiting those scars on the wicket and though Rollins and Michael Slater had given Derby a breezy start, there were then three consolation wickets for Sussex before the inevitable Derbyshire victory.