Sussex 282-5 v Lancashire: Prior makes Lancashire pay after Cork's loss

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The Independent Online

All things considered, it is bordering on the miraculous that Lancashire are still able to field a pace attack, given the way their new-ball bowlers have been either struck down by injury or called up by England.

For the second match in two weeks, Lancashire lost a key player during the game. Against Kent at Canterbury last month, Andrew Flintoff broke down with his ankle problem.

Yesterday, Dominic Cork, who has shouldered the new-ball responsibilities admirably, suffered a cut finger when taking the catch to end an obdurate knock by Michael Yardy and went to hospital for stitches. He took no part in the final session of the day. As if that were not bad enough, leg spinner Simon Marshall hobbled out of the action after suffering bouts of cramp in the afternoon.

It is enough to send a county looking for an overseas player, which Lancashire are entitled to do since they only have Nathan Astle on their books - the Australian Stuart Law is a naturalised Englishman. Maybe they are just getting used to having one after the England and Wales Cricket Board ruled yesterday that from 2008 counties may only field one overseas player, although they will be able to replace him with another in the event of injury or an international call-up.

None of that helped their situation much yesterday. Shorn of Cork's services, Matt Prior and Robin Martin-Jenkins both hit half-centuries as they compiled an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 121.

That partnership made an attritional day on a slow pitch all the tougher for the Championship leaders, who arrived on the South Coast a point ahead of Sussex.

They began promisingly enough after losing the toss, with Cork accounting for the openers in his first two overs. Sussex survived the rest of the session, though, Yardy a study in concentration and Murray Goodwin a picture of application. Not until after lunch, with the stand worth 99, did Lancashire gain further reward, the in-form Goodwin giving Tom Smith a return catch.

Glen Chapple had the Sussex captain, Chris Adams, caught behind, then came the big one. Yardy had crawled past 50 for the fifth time in six Championship innings when he clipped slow left-armer Gary Keedy to Cork at midwicket.

It was debatable which was the more damaging blow, the loss of Yardy to the Sussex cause after four diligent hours, or the injury to Cork. Prior and Martin-Jenkins then lifted the scoring rate from snail's pace to sluggish to haul Sussex back into this match.

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