Lancashire lacking leading lights as Adams steals show

Sussex 458-9 v Lancashire

Two stinginG defeats by Kent and now this. What's gone wrong with the Championship favourites, Lancashire? Mostly, it is the bowling. Peter Martin is recovering from a knee operation but is back in training. James Anderson and the mighty Andrew Flintoff are with England. Their deputies, in Marlene Dietrich's words, can't cut the mustard, at least not on this pitch, not against Sussex.

Two stinginG defeats by Kent and now this. What's gone wrong with the Championship favourites, Lancashire? Mostly, it is the bowling. Peter Martin is recovering from a knee operation but is back in training. James Anderson and the mighty Andrew Flintoff are with England. Their deputies, in Marlene Dietrich's words, can't cut the mustard, at least not on this pitch, not against Sussex.

The current county champions have replaced Yorkshire - remember them? - as Lancashire's principal foes. Lancashire won here last year when Sussex were on the way to their first-ever title, and then won at Hove earlier this summer, their way of demonstrating forcibly who they believe to be the best side in county cricket. There is needle.

So when Chris Adams won the toss on a flat, slowish surface Sussex gleefully took advantage, despite losing Richard Montgomerie to a smart catch at short leg at 16. The 100 arrived in 21 overs and the runs flowed so freely that Murray Goodwin flailed once too often to be caught at third man, Matt Prior went in similar fashion and when Sajid Mahmood found a little extra bounce, on a cooler evening, Sussex lost momentum when they had looked on course for 500.

Lancashire's mood was not improved by two misses by the wicketkeeper and captain, Warren Hegg, off their best bowler, the slow left-armer Gary Keedy. Ian Ward's escape cost only 14 runs but Adams, who was dropped on 19, went on to buttress the innings with a patient 145 not out, grudgingly saluted by the opposition.

The Sussex tail were treated to a lively last half-hour by Lancashire's seamers, so there could be repercussions today.

"Rubbish," shouted one spectator, with an accent from nearer Burnley than Brighton. Recent form seems to have affected attendances, too, with a much smaller crowd here than the ones that watched Middlesex and Worcestershire. But, then, Anderson was playing.

* In the First Division match at Gloucester, most of the Middlesex top order made decent starts, but could not capitalise against Gloucestershire. Then the South African all-rounder Lance Klusener came in at number eight and hit 62 not out off 51 balls with 12 boundaries as they reached 333 for 6.

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