In-form Lancashire narrowly missed out on their third Championship win in the face of some frustrating final day Sussex resistance
Despite the marathon efforts of left-arm spinner Gary Keedy and company, the South Coast outfit escaped with a draw thanks in the main to centurions Ed Joyce and Naveed Arif.
Starting the day on 147-0, Sussex lost four wickets for 17 runs inside eight overs early in the morning session, with Glen Chapple striking twice in an over to remove Chris Nash and Luke Wells.
Keedy bowled an incredible 42 overs today with few breaks, taking 4-200, but he and his team-mates were frustrated by Joyce’s 140, Arif’s career best 100 not out and a dogged 17 not out from last man Monty Panesar.
Lancashire were also hamstrung after lunch by Sajid Mahmood’s forced removal from the attack by umpire Michael Gough after bowling a second beamer of the innings at Joyce. The 29 year-old had bowled his first to Nash during the final session of day three.
But it should not take away from what was a monumental effort from the visitors, who were in the field for the last seven sessions of the match after forcing Sussex to follow-on in reply to 590.
“We knew the pitch was flat, but we gave it everything,” said captain Chapple. “The lads were terrific. We fought really hard, and we played superb cricket throughout.
“The result is disappointing, but we’ve got ten points and we have to move on.”
Sussex were five down at lunch, with Murray Goodwin stumped by Gareth Cross off Keedy and Ben Brown run out, and they would have been six down had Paul Horton not dropped Joyce at first slip on 104. Though, it did not look as if it would cost the visitors because they kept chipping away.
At 306-7 in the 85th over, Lancs looked well set for the win with more than a session of play left.
But Joyce, who earlier brought up three figures off 176 balls, shared 60 with Arif before he fell to the off-spin of Steven Croft just before tea.
And then Arif opened his shoulders after the break as he closed in on a maiden career ton.
He slog-swept Keedy for consecutive sixes in the midst of a last wicket stand of 90 with Panesar, who evoked memories of his famous rear-guard effort at Cardiff in 2009 when he saved the first Ashes Test for England in partnership with Jimmy Anderson.
The pair took Sussex’s lead beyond 150 with 12 overs left in the day.
When the Pakistani reached his ton off 131 balls by sweeping Croft for four, the players shook hands on the draw with the score at 459-9.
“To bowl them out for 290 in the first innings was a great effort today,” continued Chapple. “But they played well today. Joyce is a class player. They scored two hundreds in the innings, and that’s what’s ultimately saved them.”
On the Mahmood incident, who was exonerated of any blame by Irishman Joyce, Chapple added: “Saj bowled really well. He just bowled two deliveries that weren’t legal. We did miss him in that final session, but we don’t blame him.”
The Lancashire squad will remain in the south ahead of Monday’s Clydesdale Bank 40 match against Essex at Chelmsford.
Chapple will miss the match, however, in order to rest a knee injury that he picked up in the morning session. He fell awkwardly in the midst of his follow-through, and had to leave the field briefly for treatment.
He returned to complete innings of 2-64 from 24 overs and is expecting to be fit for Wednesday’s Championship match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Reports: Day1 I Day 2 I Day 3
Photo (c) PA Images
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