Cricket: Universities upset slipshod Sussex

British Universities 217-6 Sussex 198 British Univ win by 19 runs
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The Independent Online
First it was Ireland, yesterday it was the turn of British Universities to upset the cosy status quo of county cricket by beating Sussex in the current round of Benson and Hedges matches. English cricket is not strong, but if the giant-killing trend continues at this rate, England may even have a chance of trouncing the Aussies, though it is unlikely that Michael Atherton can rely on them playing quite as poorly as Sussex did at Fenner's.

This was the students' first win in this competition for seven years and they last beat Yorkshire at Headingley in 1990. But if the win was a deeply satisfying one, the gloss was surely removed by the tame way in which Sussex, having virtually got the match won at the half-way stage of their innings, lay down once the students were able to exert the tiniest bit of pressure. Neither side played brilliant cricket, but when steel was needed, it was Sussex who could not pass the mettle detector test.

One man who did, however, was Mark Chilton, an economics student at Durham and a member of the Lancashire playing staff. In fact all the students are on one county staff or another, so Sussex can at least console themselves that they were essentially beaten by a powerful county second team.

Having contributed a sensible 34 with the bat, Chilton then proceeded to take 5 for 26 with his occasional but mesmerising medium-pace, as Sussex fell apart, losing their last six wickets for 69 runs in 11 overs.

Almost as crucial was the strangulating spell bowled by Steffan Jones in the middle of the innings. Jones, a tall strapping pace bowler who is also set to play rugby for Bristol, bowled his 10 overs for just 22 runs, including the crucial wicket of Keith Greenfield. It was a spell that was instrumental in getting the students back into the game.

After the messy blood-letting over the winter, this result will not be music to the new hierarchy's ears, though it may deflect attention from the latest squabble at Hove, which involves the relocation of their famous library into a Portakabin, currently inhabited by the coaching staff.

Indeed the chairman, Robin Marlar, was present yesterday, but left when Sussex appeared to be coasting to victory. Anyone who knows Marlar, would not have wanted to be on the other end of last night's phone call. High on the agenda of expanations required will be why Vasbert Drakes, clearly sent in first to hit out, played straighter than Geoffrey Boycott.

Such convention was something that seemed to afflict the openers of both sides. Indeed few, including the Universities coach, Derek Randall, believed their 217 would be adequate, particularly after the openers, Ed Smith and Tim Hodgson, had been slow to play themselves in.

Fortunately their sloth was compensated by some dashing middle-order strokeplay as Chilton, Will House and Umer Rashid added 109 in 16 overs, to set a target that was more than adequate for Sussex's current frailty of mind.