Cricket: Wells leads a recovery

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The Independent Online
Sussex. . . . . . . . . . . . . .403 and 202

Lancashire. . . . . . . . . . . .280 and 17-0

AS IF having influenza was not bad enough, Alan Wells, the Sussex captain, was made to suffer even further yesterday in his side's Championship match against Lancashire here, before finding the perfect cure for self and side.

Even though 90 minutes were lost through rain before lunch, Wells was able to console himself with an overnight lead of 146, and the fact that Wasim Akram, Lancashire's Pakistani fast bowler who took 4 for 55 in the first innings, had been sent home with the same virus.

When Jamie Hall and Keith Greenfield carried the second innings score to 77 for 1, Wells was content to stay in the warmth of the pavilion as Lancashire's bowlers struggled in the cold conditions.

But as the Sussex spinners, Eddie Hemmings and Brad Donelan, had shown the previous evening when they shared nine victims, the wicket was responsive to spin. That prompted the Lancashire captain, Neil Fairbrother, to greet the first appearance of the sun with the introduction of an all-spin attack.

Gary Yates, who replaced Phillip DeFreitas at the Stretford End, took three of the wickets as Sussex collapsed to 95 for 6 in just 16 overs.

Yates claimed Hall, for 34, Donelan, for two, and John North for none - all caught at silly mid-off - while his spin partner, Alex Barnett, snared Franklyn Stephenson for one and Peter Moores for four.

That was when Wells decided it was time to ignore his own suffering and give his undivided attention to shoring up the crumbling innings.

It was a timely intervention, because the captain's brisk 53 off 83 balls included nine fours and helped put on 91 runs with Greenfield in what Sussex hope will be a match-winning partnership.

A measure of Wells' contribution was that Greenfield's patient 60 not out took four and a half hours with only three boundaries.

However, against a background of changing partners before and after his captain had been bowled by Barnett, it was a commendable knock.

Barnett finished with 5 for 65 and Yates 3 for 90, but Sussex nevertheless made 202, and by the close Lancashire still needed a daunting 309 runs on a tricky wicket.