Cricket: Unsung Ostler revels in adversity

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The Independent Online
Sussex 131 and 107-8

Warwickshire 183

YOU HAVE to hand it to Warwickshire - and Sussex did just that - because with their backs to the wall on an unpredictable wicket here, they revealed the collective fighting spirit that not only saw them heading fast towards a 10th Championship win of the season, but one that will almost certainly result in them marching on to the title.

With wickets falling like cluster bombs and another explosion greeting yesterday's resumption when Andy Moles swatted the first ball of the morning, from Paul Jarvis, to a diving Bill Athey at mid- on, Warwickshire proceeded to guts it out. The end product was a lead of 52, slim in ordinary circumstances but substantial in this case.

The assumption that Brian Lara would then bring a touch of class was only that. The West Indian record-breaker has scored only one century and a couple of 50s since making 197 at Northampton towards the end of June and he soon followed Keith Piper along what was becoming a well-trodden path leading to the pavilion.

Warwickshire were 67 for 5 and in much the same situation as Sussex had been on day one. So far, in a contest of attrition in which tempers often appeared to be frayed, no one had made a significant contribution other than with the ball, but that was about to change.

And as so often in the trenches, it was one of the unsung heroes - of which there appears to be no shortage in the Warwickshire ranks - who rescued the cause. With Trevor Penney lending valuable support, Dominic Ostler put his head down and grafted away for an 89-minute, 75-ball half century, the only one of the match. It was the break Warwickshire needed and they never looked back.

When Ed Giddins found the edge of Ostler's bat in the first over after lunch, the partnership was worth 67. Gladstone Small and Graeme Welch then made a valiant 30 for the ninth wicket.

In other words, a typical all- round effort from this Warwickshire side, who now went for the jugular in no uncertain manner once Small had ripped out both openers. At 77 for 7, Sussex were as good as buried, though after roaming in the gloaming they had at least established a lead of 55. This was thanks to Martin Speight, who was unbeaten on 38 when bad light brought a premature end to the day's proceedings.

Jitender Singh and Milap Mewada rescued India with a determined sixth-wicket stand in the Under-19 Test against England at Headingley yesterday. Singh was unbeaten on 161, having batted for ten and a quarter hours.

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