Symonds delivers debut show of perfection

Lancashire 249-8 Sussex 214-8, Lancashire win by 35 runs
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The Independent Online

With a performance for which the term all-rounder was totally inadequate, he batted, bowled, caught and threw Lancashire into the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy semi-finals, scoring 101 runs, taking two wickets, holding four catches and effecting a run-out. By the way, he was named man of the match.

Sussex sensed a real chance, both when reducing their opponents to 34 for 2 after putting them in and again when reaching 120 for 2 in reply to 249 for 8. Each time, though, they were swept away by a man whose summer has gone all one way since his disciplining for going AWOL in the triangular NatWest Series.

In the end, Lancashire won by 35 runs and England have a reminder, if one were needed, of the enormous depth in the tourists' ranks.

Run-scoring proved easier at the start of both innings, which is why Symonds needed only 50 balls to reach his half century and another 66 to make it to three figures.

He was entitled to look in good nick following his man of the series heroics against England and Bangladesh - and quickly underlined what a big asset he is going to be for Lancashire.

Joining another Old Trafford new recruit, his countryman Marcus North, he looked thoroughly at ease by assuming command in a stand that became worth 50 in 10 overs and 100 in 20.

From 152 for 2 after 30 overs, Lancashire fell away as several batsmen perished to careless shots that helped Mushtaq Ahmed and Rana Naved to three wickets each.

The chase was very much on at 112 for 1, with Matt Prior and Chris Adams closing in on a hundred partnership. Then Prior holed out at deep midwicket and Symonds got to work with the ball. He "castled" Adams to make it 120 for 3 and followed up with a brilliant catch off his own bowling to remove the dangerous Murray Goodwin. That full-lengtheffort was matched by one at backward point off Andrew Flintoff to send back Michael Yardy and, in a crazy spell in which the ball seemed drawn by a magnet to his golden hands, he bagged Carl Hopkinson and Naved, and ran out Luke Wright.

For Flintoff, playing his first county match since 23 May, it was a familiar plot. He has spent time in the shadow of Kevin Pietersen and yesterday did likewise with a new team-mate. A modest contribution eventually brought him three wickets and he also flexed his vocal chords when becoming embroiled in a row between Adams and James Anderson.

A bat was pointed in Flintoff's direction after Anderson had eyeballed the Sussex skipper at close quarters. But the top-edged six that preceded it proved an inconvenience Lancashire could well afford.