Opener Luke Wells scored an unbeaten century as Sussex batted out for a draw in their Specsavers County Championship match against Leicestershire at the Fischer County Ground.
After taking 70 minutes to add to his overnight score of seven during the morning session, Wells batted rather more fluently in the afternoon, the highlight of his innings a huge straight six off the bowling of left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson.
Leicestershire’s bowlers stuck to their lines and lengths, but found little reward on a pitch that while dry, stubbornly refused to deteriorate. An outstanding spell of nine overs from Mohammad Abbas had set the tone for a hard-fought morning’s play.
The Pakistan international seamer swung and seamed the ball both ways, regularly beating the bat without taking the edge, though he did dismiss Sussex opener Phil Salt with an out-swinger that knocked the off-stump out of the ground.
Once the new ball began to soften, however, batting became easier on the relatively lifeless pitch. Leicestershire did pick up another wicket in the session, Stiaan Van Zyl leg before wicket to a Gavin Griffiths in-swinger for 24.
Two wickets also fell during the afternoon session, Harry Finch leg before half forward to seamer Ben Raine, before Luke Wright, having added 60 with Wells for the fourth wicket, was bowled by an Ateeq Javid delivery that turned inside his attempted drive through the offside.
Wells was joined by his captain Ben Brown before going to his hundred, the 18th of his first-class career, off 227 balls, having hit ten fours and two sixes. Brown should have been run out without scoring after a misunderstanding with Wells, but Javid missed the stumps from no more than three yards with the batsman several yards short of his ground.
Sussex head coach Jason Gillespie said: "It was hard-fought game played on what turned out to be a very good surface – it didn’t quite misbehave as much as we thought it might at the back end of the game. I thought we batted very well in both innings, against some very disciplined Leicestershire bowling. We ticked off some big partnerships, and Luke Wright, Ben Burgess and Luke Wells batted beautifully.
“But I also thought our disciplines in the field with the ball were fantastic, we bowled straight and attacked the stumps, and the fielders backed up the bowlers brilliantly. Wellsy’s hundred today was top drawer – he had to work very hard, it was a seriously challenging session this morning, Abbas bowled very, very well, but Luke stuck to his task and didn’t get flustered. You have to have that ability as a batsman, stay in the moment and focus on the next ball.”