Lancashire display title form
Sussex 195 & 163 Lancashire 335 & 24-0 Lancashire win by 10 wickets
Saturday 24 April 2004
If any confirmation were needed that Lancashire are serious contenders for the County Championship, this was it. Even Chris Adams, the captain of the defending champions Sussex, had to admit: "We have had our arses kicked by a team that looked very hungry."
But while Adams felt that the Sussex second innings was not as disappointing as their first effort "we were not in the right frame of mind on day one" it still bordered on capitulation as the last nine Sussex wickets fell in 88 minutes for 73 runs to leave Lancashire a trifling target.
It was such a contrast with the attitude and performance that Sussex had shown against Surrey at The Oval in the previous round. "There are no excuses," said Adams. "It's our own fault, because if we had scored 400 today it would have given us a chance, on a rapidly deteriorating pitch with Mushtaq [Ahmed] bowling somewhere near his best. It was disappointing to get skittled out like that. We paid dearly for that." And not even the deduction of two points for a slow over-rate could mar the celebrations. "I will take losing a couple of points to come away with victory over a team that is going to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season," said the Lancashire captain, Warren Hegg.
"Last season we did not win a single game in three days, our earliest finish was just after lunch against Leicestershire at Liverpool. We will probably have a day off tomorrow." On this showing, Lancashire will earn a few more days off this summer. Their seam attack here was unrelenting, and they can always call on Gary Keedy, their leading wicket taker last season. It is a forbidding attack and made all the more so by their formidable batting line-up.
Dominic Cork has quickly settled in. He followed up a fine first day performance with the first of what will be quite a few five-wicket hauls this year. He and the promising Sajid Mahmood really put the skids under Sussex shortly after midday, with two wickets apiece in a spell of four for six in 10 balls. There was no chance of recovery after that, with Richard Montgomerie, Adams, Murray Goodwin and Robin Martin-Jenkins all back in the dressing room. Ian Ward had already fallen to Peter Martin after taking his opening stand with Montgomerie to 64.
Matt Prior and Tim Ambrose manfully compiled 57 gritty runs for the sixth wicket that at least ensured Lancashire would have to bat again. Ambrose became Cork's third victim shortly before the interval. Prior followed, caught behind off Glenn Chapple just after lunch, Mushtaq was run out and Cork wrapped it all up with the wickets of Jason Lewry and Kevin Innes.
The only bright spot for Sussex was that they avoided a points deduction for a slow over rate by fairly sprinting through the 8.5 overs Lancashire needed to knock off the winning runs. Small consolation though.
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