Collymore fails to inspire win despite heroics

Sussex 441 & 138-2 dec Hampshire 346
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The Independent Online

This match may have dripped its way to a damp draw – overall virtually a day's play was lost to the weather – but there was enough excitement on the final day to send a frisson or two down the spines of the home supporters at least.

The chief architect of the thrills was Corey Collymore, the West Indies pace bowler, who had been wicketless in the 16 overs he had sent down in the match so far.

Yesterday, however, was very different. Collymore's accuracy, allied to his ability to get the ball to do something – usually something horrid to the batsman – ensured that initial expectations, at least, of a dull draw, were turned on their head.

In 13 unchanged overs, from the Castle End of this picturesque ground, between the start of play and lunch, the 30-year-old Collymore appeared to have changed the course of the Hampshire first innings reply.

Collymore is not the kind of bowler who is going to uproot trees – an act that would be ill-advised at this leafy ground given how many trees there are – but his ability to exploit the surface, as well as occasionally wringing a little bit of swing out of the atmosphere, makes him a bowler not to be underestimated, as he demonstrated.

Having said that, he did begin rather unpromisingly, racing in for his first ball of the morning, only to run on through without bowling it. He was clearly unhappy with his run-up or his rhythm. Something was not right, but there was no doubt about his second attempt; to the left-handed batsman Michael Lumb. Collymore definitely got that right.

The South Africa-born, former Yorkshire batsman Lumb, drove at the first proper delivery of the second over of the day and edged the ball straight to the Sussex captain Michael Yardy at first slip, and departed having added just a single to his overnight 45.

Spectators shifted interestedly in their seats, not yet on the edge of them, but prepared to move in that direction. When, in the bowler's third over of the morning, John Crawley tried to work a Collymore ball to leg and fell lbw there was a definite stirring around the ground, because in the previous over Jason Lewry had dropped in a ball just short of a length to new man Liam Dawson and the batsman had presented Ollie Rayner with a catch at second slip.

Unfortunately for Sussex, the opposition's captain Dimitri Mascarenhas and Sean Ervine dominated the next 10 overs or so as they nudged Hampshire closer to avoiding the ignominy of following on. In that time they put on more than useful 39 for the sixth wicket.

However, Collymore was still pounding in and his persistence and patience were rewarded when he beat the bat off the pitch and uprooted Ervine's off stump. In his next over the Barbadian accounted for Mascarenhas with his second leg before decision.

But up popped Dominic Cork to spike the Sussex guns and shepherd Hampshire safely past the follow-on figure of 291 and on to a certain draw. Hampshire eventually finished 95 runs behind.

Sussex opener Chris Nash then set pulses racing with a quickfire 37 off 27 balls, which included a six off leg-spinner Imran Tahir. His fireworks briefly giving the impression that there might be a target to set up an exciting finale to the rain-ruined match, but not so.

When Nash perished the run-rate slowed to a trickle, as Yardy and Ed Joyce steadily put even more runs between them and their opponents.

Joyce fell after sharing in a second-wicket stand of 86, and shortly afterwards Yardy called it a day with Sussex 233 runs in front.

The two teams will play each other again today in tranquil Arundel for a Pro40 match before heading for Lord's next Saturday for their third consecutive meeting in what should be a tense Friends Provident Final.