Sussex 439 Lancashire 246-4: Lancashire impose rule of Law in top-of-table dispute - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

Sussex 439 Lancashire 246-4: Lancashire impose rule of Law in top-of-table dispute

For the last five seasons, Stuart Law has preyed upon Sussex, gorging himself and making life as difficult as it can get for the South Coast side. Yesterday's was his 11th innings for Lancashire against Sussex and he maintained his staggering record against his whipping boys with his fifth hundred against them, during which he also took his tally against them past 1,000 runs - curiously he never reached three figures against these opponents during his six years with Essex.

Law's most productive partnership was with the wicketkeeper, Gareth Cross, who clobbered the leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed for a couple of sixes on the way to a 46-ball 50, with Law taking a back seat.

By the close, though, the brilliant Australian (now a naturalised Englishman) had reached the 75th hundred of his career and he had taken his average against Sussex to close on 150. It was compensation for the start of the day when Lancashire, even with a patched-up Dominic Cork, allowed Sussex to pull away and compile a substantial first-innings score.

While they were able to deny their Championship rivals a batting bonus point, Lancashire missed out on a bowling bonus point. They therefore needed to make up lost ground with the bat. This they did, despite the presence in the Sussex attack of Mushtaq, who entered this top-of-the-table clash as the country's leading wicket-taker with 62.

Despite his vociferous exhortations for lbw and bat-pad catches, the diminutive Mushtaq was left wicketless, umpire Peter Willey unmoved by the loud and incessant appeals.

Then, late in the day, Mushtaq appeared to suffer discomfort in his groin and left the field with one ball of his 19th over to bowl, having conceded 76 runs. Sussex must pray the injury is inconvenient rather than incapacitating, because without Mushtaq they will almost certainly be unable to contain Lancashire.

At the start of the day, Lancashire, with Cork restored to their attack, failed to take early wickets as Matt Prior and Robin Martin-Jenkins took their productive sixth-wicket partnership to 174.

The wicketkeeper Prior duly reached his third hundred of the season, which is the 14th of his career, while Martin-Jenkins' responsible three-hour half-century was a welcome return to form, and the pair of them fell just 39 runs short of the sixth-wicket record against Lancashire, set by Ranjitsinjhi and Bert Relf in 1904.

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