MCC 425 & 327-5 dec Sussex 385-9 & 121-4: Shah shines after waterlogged Lord's

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The Independent Online

It is typical of cricket, this most eccentric of sports, that during the hottest April on record play should have been delayed for an hour and quarter yesterday because one end of the Lord's pitch was waterlogged.

A rogue sprinkler, bored with describing a 180 degree arc to water the Grandstand edge of the square, stretched a few degrees further round. That created a small, but steady stream flowing down the famous Lord's slope. The water crept under the edge of the high-tech "hover" cover on the pitch and saturated the bowler's follow-through area at the Nursery End.

"It was a million to one chance," said Mick Hunt, the Lord's head groundsman. "There are 70 sprinklers out here. If it had been any of the other sprinklers, or any of the pitches it would not have been possible."

With 20 overs lost to the sprinkler, the MCC captain, Alastair Cook, clearly felt there was little point in attempting to set up any kind of a run chase, so the invitation side, who began the day 266 runs in front, batted on for the best part of an hour and a half. That allowed Owais Shah to reach a modest personal landmark - his unbeaten hundred was his 10th century on this, his home ground. Sussex's only reward was the wicket of Alex Gidman, who turned his overnight 19 into a satisfying fifty.

What drama there was came late in the day when Matthew Hoggard dropped a skier from Matt Prior at wide long-on. The England bowler appeared to have hurt a hand and promptly left the field.

It transpired he was answering a call of nature and apart from a slight soreness he said was fine. There had certainly been little wrong with his bowling earlier on as he picked up two of the four Sussex wickets to fall second time around as they set off after the 368 runs required for victory from a notional 49 overs.

By the time they called it a day there were 15 overs remaining and no hope of a positive result and the game trickled to a draw.

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