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Paul Edwards at Old Trafford
May 6, 2014
Sussex298 and 216-5 (Yardy 45, Hamilton-Brown 44, Machan 44*) lead Lancashire191 (Davies 59, Smith 49, Magoffin 4-36) by 323 runs
Batting is a matter of technique and temperament, timing and tempo. Of that quartet, it is probably tempo which receives the least attention. As Lancashire's spectators watched Sussex's batsmen build a formidable lead during the last two sessions of the third day of this match they would have been excused for wishing their own batsmen could exhibit such calm control.
Despite losing the wickets of both Chris Nash and Luke Wells quite early, the visiting batsmen went about their business with the air of cricketers who were confident in their own ability to implement a clear plan. Building on a first innings lead of 107, Sussex had extended their advantage to 205 by tea and 323 at the close with Matt Machan displaying some fine enterprise and invention late in the evening session.
Skipper Nash should not want any more runs on the fourth morning before declaring and hoping his bowlers can embarrass Lancashire again. Even then, it remains quite likely that the weather will have the last word. All the same, if this game does end in a draw, the points distribution - 10 to Sussex, 8 to Lancashire - will hardly reflect the merits of the two teams
Sussex's pace of scoring may still have disturbed supporters who had consulted a weather forecast and therefore wanted their batsmen to get a wriggle on. Yet what remained noticeable was the security shown by Michael Yardy and, later, Rory Hamilton-Brown, and their obvious awareness of their part in an overall strategy. Neither batsman looked like getting out until Yardy gave Steven Croft the charge after tea and was well caught one-handed by Horton at slip. Around half an hour before the close, Hamilton-Brown was bowled by Simon Kerrigan for a 114-ball 44. Both batsmen did their jobs.
On the basis of their performances in the 2014 campaign so far, Lancashire supporters probably expect their own favourites to get out at any point in their innings. Far too infrequently have Red Rose batsmen looked like hanging round for a session or two. Instead, their often brief stays have been characterised by frenetic insecurity. That was why the hard-nosed resilience of Alex Davies was so welcome for Lancashire on the second day of this game.
Lancashire's young wicketkeeper collected his maiden first-class fifty in the first session of Tuesday's play before he skied an attempted drive off Luke Wright to Ashar Zaidi at mid-off. By that time, his partner in obduracy, Tom Smith, had also been dismissed thanks to a fine catch by Ben Brown, standing up to the stumps, off Jon Lewis.
With Glen Chapple at the other end, Kerrigan might have been expected to hold up an end and watch the fun, a task he is well capable of performing. Instead, and rather inexplicably, he gave Zaidi the charge and was stumped for a single.
When Kyle Jarvis was lbw to the excellent Steve Magoffin for a duck, Lancashire had failed to reach 200 for the third time this season. In four of the last five seasons the side collecting the fewest batting bonus points have been relegated; Glen Chapple's team have garnered just one such point in 2014.
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