After 18 wickets fell on the first day of Sussex's encounter with Worcestershire at Horsham, it seemed unlikely that the Second Division match would last until the weekend. Sixteen of those wickets fell to seamers, but it was a spinner, Mark Davis, who proved the key to victory for the hosts.
Worcestershire were in a strong position overnight, on 173 for 3 requiring a further 154 to win. But they began disast-rously as David Leatherdale was caught behind almost immediately off James Kirtley, the pace bowler who was standing in as captain after Chris Adams had been called away because of a family bereavement.
As Davis, a newly-recruited 29-year-old off-spinner from Northerns in South Africa who qualifies as English by virtue of his parents, began to weave his magic spell, three wickets fell for eight runs, including the Australian Andy Bichel, who was bowled by Kirtley.
Vikram Solanki, who missed out on England's one-day squad, put on 78 with Steven Rhodes before falling to Davis for 89 off 162 balls with 16 fours. The eighth wicket added 30, leaving 35 to win, but Davis took two wickets in three balls and the innings disintegrated just after lunch. Davis ended up with 6 for 116 and Kirtley 3 for 49 as Sussex won by 33 runs.
Another county attempting to benefit from parental ties are Nottinghamshire. Their coach, Clive Rice, has run the South African academy and recruited the highly promising 20-year-old all-rounder Kevin Pietersen from KwaZulu-Natal, plus the seasoned Northerns left-arm seamer Greg Smith, both of whom are England qualified.
Pietersen, who impressed on England's tour two winters ago, has been in sparkling form this season and was averaging 59.50 with the bat, including an unbeaten 165 and 65 not out at Lord's in May. Trent Bridge would have hoped for another miracle from him yesterday.
Adrift by 410 runs against Gloucestershire, who had beaten them in each of the last four years, Nottinghamshire were in deep trouble on 61 for 3 even though the visitors' attack was bereft of Australian Ian Harvey, Jon Lewis and Mike Smith. Then England A star Usman Afzaal was out lbw to the fourth ball of the day, padding up to Mike Cawdron, which brought Pietersen to the crease.
He came up with a frenetic 72 off just 71 balls, with 11 fours and two sixes, but wickets continued to fall at the other end. With Smith thrashing away too, the last two wickets raised 99, but Nottinghamshire succumbed on 284 to lose by 187 runs, Cawdron's seamers earning 3 for 90. It was Gloucestershire's first win of the season.
Durham expertly chased a target of 315 last week to defeat Nottinghamshire, cruising to victory by eight wickets. Yester-day, bottom-placed Derbyshire set them a similar test, 326, at Derby, although they only had 85 overs to make them. This time it was the 18-year-old Nicky Peng who set them well on their way after three wickets had gone down for 80.
Peng had scored 98 on debut last year in Durham's unlikely win over the champions, Surrey, Adam Hollioake describing him as the best young player he had seen. He also registered two centuries for England Under-19s, against their Sri Lankan counterparts last summer and then in India during the winter.
The hosts had been bowled out for 267 from an overnight 214 for 6, off-spinner Nicky Phillips picking up 4 for 92. He took three wickets in five overs, including Karl Krikken, who made 75, while the pacey Steve Harmison returned 3 for 65.
Then Durham's heroes last week, Australian Martin Love and captain Jonathan Lewis, put on 64 for the second wicket. Martin Speight, like Jack Russell an artist-cum-wicketkeeper, came in for the England-bound Paul Collingwood and added 97 with Peng for the third wicket before he was brilliantly run out by Rob Bailey. Danny Law contributed to a stand of 64, but needing 64 off 10 overs, Peng was also run out for 90, off 156 balls with 13 fours, and Durham drew on 280 for 7.Reuse content