Spin king Gary Keedy believes a win against Sussex in the LV County Championship is realistic after breathing new life into Lancashire's hopes with three wickets in the final session of day three at Hove today.
The 34 year-old left-arm twirler whipped out Murray Goodwin and Matt Prior within the space of three balls in the 32nd over of Sussex’s second innings before rapping Ed Joyce (55) on the pads in the very last over of the day (the 50th).
The hosts closed on 148-5 with a lead of 138 going into tomorrow’s final day. Lancashire were earlier bowled out for 299 in their first innings. Mark Chilton top scored with a marathon 89. [Scorecard]
Keedy said: “A win is realistic at this stage, but we are playing Sussex here. Take your foot off the gas, and they will hammer you. Throughout the three days, this game has been like a boxing match. We have had a good period, they have had a good period. It’s about who will let their guard down first. Hopefully they have done that.”
Sussex picked up three wickets during the morning session, those of Steven Croft (59), Chilton and Luke Sutton (20) to leave Lancashire 259-7 at lunch.Croft was caught at first slip by Joyce off the bowling of Luke Wright, without adding to his overnight score, off just the seventh ball of the day.
Chilton and Sutton then shared 43 for the sixth wicket when the former was given out lbw to Robin Martin-Jenkins in the 99th over. And Sutton was caught behind to give Wright his second wicket of the day in the next over to reduce the visitors to 257-7.
Wright completed his best ever analysis for the hosts, finishing with 5-80 from 27.5 overs, to help restrict Lancashire to a first innings lead of just ten.The England one-day man took two of the three wickets to fall after lunch, having Keedy caught behind by Matt Prior and Sajid Mahmood (26) lbw. Robin Martin-Jenkins (3-50 from 25 overs) had captain Glen Chapple caught behind. It left Lancashire just one run short of a third batting bonus point.
Mahmood, a much better batsman than his statistics have suggested over the last few years, hit three memorable fours in his 45-ball stay at the crease. He cut Martin-Jenkins just forward of square, drove Wright straight and forced the same bowler to the extra cover fence off the back foot. But it was Chilton who was the Red Rose county’s mainstay in their first innings with his 269-ball knock, including 13 fours.
Sussex wiped out their first innings deficit as early as the third over of their second innings, but the nerves were soon jangling courtesy of Anderson – again.The Burnley-born bowler claimed six wickets in the first innings, and took his match tally to eight within just 14 overs of the Sussex second innings.
He had Chris Nash caught behind by Sutton, just two balls after changing ends from the Cromwell Road End to the Sea End here at Hove. Nash had cracked his first ball for four, but a jubilant Anderson came back with the perfect reply. And the 26 year-old then forced Mike Yardy to play one back onto his stumps for 22 to leave the score at 45-2.
Lancashire were convinced they had Goodwin caught behind, off the bowling of Tom Smith, shortly after tea. The Zimbabwean survived. But he only did so for eleven more overs because he was Keedy’s first victim when he was neatly stumped by Sutton for 20. Prior was on his way back to the pavilion after facing just two balls because he was given out lbw pushing forward.
That left the score at 95-4 in the 32nd over, meaning Sussex bowling hero Wright had to forge a fifth wicket stand with Joyce to keep the Martlets afloat. Joyce and Wright (35 not out) then shared a frustrating fifth wicket partnership of 53, but Keedy returned for his third spell to force Joyce onto the back foot with what actually proved to be the last ball of the day.
Keedy continued: “I came on with not much spin in the wicket. The one that got Goodwin spun a lot, and I bowled a good spell from then on. Ed has played really well in this match, but I am hoping that his wicket has swung the balance in our favour.
“We still need five wickets, but whatever their score is we have got to say ‘come on lads, it’s a good wicket, let’s give it our best shot’. We have still got to be mindful that the pitch is starting to misbehave.”