Reeve grinds it out

Cricket: Warwickshire 645-7 dec Sussex 222 and 187-6
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The Independent Online
As he ran on to the field after lunch, Dermot Reeve turned round and saw his Warwickshire colleagues sauntering out. He clapped his hands and told them to keep concentrating.

The county champions were humiliating Sussex, and Reeve was intent on turning the screw. Chasing a score of 645 is hard at the best of times, but Sussex had made a poor job of it. They had followed on 423 behind, and as long as it did not rain, defeat seemed inevitable. But Reeve likes dramatic gestures, and he wanted to win quickly, and, therefore, win big.

Although they did not win as quickly as Reeve hoped, his team did as it had been told; they concentrated and got their reward, though not as quickly as Reeve had hoped. On an easy pitch, they ground out their overs waiting for Sussex's batsmen to make a mistake, and eventually they obliged.

Both James Hall and Alan Wells got half-centuries, but Hall misjudged a fierce delivery from Shaun Pollock which nipped in between his bat and pad. As for Wells, he did not keep concentrating; he seemed to get bored playing the ball back to Ashley Giles over after over, tried to sweep a straight ball and was leg before. That was Giles's third dismissal on a wicket that took precious little spin.

Neil Lenham had also got bored and spooned a return catch to Giles; and Martin Speight had been deceived. Reeve was fairly quiet. He would call his players into a huddle after a wicket fell, but he could afford to contemplate the laurels he had already won.

In Sussex's first innings, which ended shortly before lunch, he took three catches, and two wickets for seven runs to follow his 168 not out. Even though Warwickshire's total of 645 was seriously forbidding, Sussex performed abysmally on a fine batting track.

The team's apologists describe it as being "in transition". At present, this is a euphemism for "not much good". The transition is from a team that relied on old professionals like Bill Athey (6 and 14 in this game) and Paul Jarvis into a sleek outfit composed of young cricketers produced by the county's coaching scheme. Fine if it works, but it is a bit risky, especially when the county deliberately resists the temptation of acquiring a flashy overseas player.

But it is not idle to say that Sussex's future depends on the team getting a lot better. Last season there was a colourful display in the pavilion of plans for a pounds 6m redevelopment that would transform the County Ground into a sports centre with conference and dining facilities.

The idea was to make the place operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, instead of for 60 during daylight hours as it does now. Planning permission was obtained, and the appeal for the funds was scheduled. This summer, however, there are no plans to be seen.

The pavilion redevelopment has been shelved because the club committee decided that the team's performance does not merit an appeal for millions. They agreed to wait until there was something to boast about. Today's performance tells us that a lot is required of Desmond Haynes, Sussex's new coach, and if he cannot perform a miracle, the Sussex committee may have to establish different criteria. Otherwise they may be waiting some time.

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