Sussex blunt champions' armoury

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL AUSTIN

reports from Edgbaston

Warwickshire 248 Sussex 360-9

When three gnarled spectators among a sparse crowd walked behind the bowler's arm at 6pm with 18 overs remaining and inevitably held up play twice in two minutes, someone muttered "Last of the Summer Wine, sit down Foggy."

Warwickshire still await the first of the vine's nectar in this match. With their own middle-order batting torn away, the champions endured an ironic sixth-wicket partnership of 105 in 39 overs between Keith Greenfield, who made a four-hour 84, and Peter Moores.

Their surnames suggest a connection with the Yorkshire Dales Evening League but their compass of strokes and ambition was much broader. They had shared a vital century stand in each innings for the fifth wicket in the 278-run win over Essex last month and, once more, Sussex watchers suddenly had double vision of the more pleasing variety.

Warwickshire bowled moderately on a tedious day, enlivened by Alan Wells, the England A captain making 49, with 10 fours, from 58 balls. Needing only to push for a single, he fell into a hooking trap set by Allan Donald. Boa Du Plessis, an Eastern Province player and substitute fielder, now with Hampton-in-Arden, a leafy village club, held a well- judged catch at long leg.

Of Warwickshire's bowlers, Gladstone Small pitched short repeatedly and Donald was off line, even allowing the nightwatchman Paul Jarvis the luxury of not needing to offer strokes. Tim Munton was the pick of Warwickshire's modest attack, taking three wickets in his first Championship game since a back operation.

Sussex prospered on bits-and-pieces contributions, notably from Jamie Hall and Keith Newell, together with the fumbles at second slip of Dominic Ostler. He put down Hall on 11 off Munton and then Moores, who had made four. It was hardly the hallmark of an ambitious team, whose relative failures this season will attract counter-attention after last summer's striking success.

For those seeking entertainment - and many abandoned hope by tea - Franklyn Stephenson was the last outpost. Typically, he was caught on the third- man boundary in search of a big hit. By then Sussex were acquiring full batting points for the second successive match, having gathered only six in their first five games.

n Kent were left facing the ignominy of following on at Canterbury after a rain-shortened day against Gloucester- shire. Replying to the visitors' 321, Kent lost their captain Mark Benson for a duck and had struggled to 98 for 7, with Michael Smith taking 4 for 46, by the close, needing another 74 to avoid the follow-on.

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