Cricket: Sussex put to sword by Brown

Middlesex 490-9 dec Sussex 44-3
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The Independent Online
This match has so far flattered to deceive. But while two centuries and five wickets by a leg-spinner tends to imply cricketing perfection on a balmy summer's day, Lord's was anything but an enticing prospect, as rain and cold winds kept spectators away and players wrapped up like Michelin men.

Only one place - a faulty hotplate in the Warner stand kitchen - was hotter than it ought to be and seven of London's finest fire engines soon had it under control. Play was not held up but the four occupants of the Warner stand had to temporarily find seating elsewhere as Keith Brown, Middlesex's second centurion, and Angus Fraser, with a hard-hit 35, made merry with a now wilting Sussex attack.

It was the only time Brown indulged himself as he notched up an unbeaten 144, the 13th ton of a career that began in 1984 and his first since 1995. His palette of shots is narrow, extending to little beyond a powerful cut and the odd canny nudge. His stay lasted 90 overs before Mike Gatting declared at 490 for 9.

His overall contribution, however, runs far deeper and his role as both stumper and stalwart has been vital to Middlesex's efforts over the years. An uncomplaining rock at the heart of a volatile changing room, he is that dying breed, a consummate and avuncular senior pro.

Not too senior to take the bowling to task and he, along with Fraser, managed to strike a six to the shorter Grandstand boundary as the pair added 78 in 74 balls.

For Sussex, only Amer Khan, a muscular leg-spinner whose action nods more towards Shane Warne than it does to his home-town hero, Abdul Qadir, would have left the field a satisfied man. He may have ended the innings with 5 for 137, but yesterday's analysis of 4 for 66 from 20 overs, which included bowling with a slippery new ball, was just reward for perseverance within a dispirited attack clearly missing several of its big guns.

The disparity between these two sides became even more apparent when Middlesex bowled. But if Fraser, with his galumphing approach, was the man to do the damage on paper, it was his greener partner James Hewitt, operating from the Nursey End, who got his name into the scorebook.

Bowling at little more than brisk medium, he nipped one back sharply up the slope to have Keith Greenfield lbw. Ten runs later, he struck again as he forced Neil Taylor into gloving a lifter behind.

The left-hander Toby Pierce followed soon after, the victim of a blinding catch by Tufnell at point as he climbed into a long-hop. If the seam bowlers keep this up Tufnell may have little to do, except apply himself in the field. The same cannot be said of Sussex, who will surely now struggle to save the follow-on, let alone the match.

n Aamir Sohail has apologised to the Pakistan Cricket Board in an attempt to have his two-year ban from international and domestic cricket lifted. A board spokesman said yesterday its council would meet within a week to decide whether to pardon Aamir or reduce the ban, imposed last month after a row with the board's chief executive, Majid Khan. Aamir's apology, described as unconditional by a board spokesman, follows a deal proposed last week by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's adviser on sports and culture, Mushahid Hussain, that Aamir must apologise and the board lift the ban.

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