Frustrated – but Sussex take heart after pushing Northants to brink

Bad light and determined resistance by Lewis McManus frustrated Sussex’s bid to pull off an unlikely victory over Northamptonshire on a gripping final day at Hove.
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McManus batted for an hour as four partners came and went and Northants lurched to 170 for 9 before umpires Paul Baldwin and Surendiran Shanmugam decided it was too gloomy even for spin with Northants ahead by 63.

The loss of more than 100 overs eventually proved decisive but Sussex will have drawn a lot of encouragement after making most of the running, especially on the last two days. They took 15 points and Northants 13.

Jayden Seales of Sussex bowls during the Vitality County Championship match between Sussex and Northamptonshire at Hove (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)Jayden Seales of Sussex bowls during the Vitality County Championship match between Sussex and Northamptonshire at Hove (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Jayden Seales of Sussex bowls during the Vitality County Championship match between Sussex and Northamptonshire at Hove (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
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Sussex coach Paul Farbrace said: "I'm delighted. The players have taken their hard work from the winter into the first game against a team in Division One last season and really tried to force the issue. It shows how confident we are as a team and how confident they are individually. We played excellent cricket.

"Our discipline with the ball helped us keep the run rate down, both seamers and our two young spinners. We also batted brilliantly, some of our catches were outstanding and overall I thought we were top class.

"Ollie [Robinson] bowled exceptionally well. His energy through the crease and the carry he got to the keeper was top class. With each spell he bowled he got better. The only way to get rhythm is to bowl overs and the more he bowled the better he looked."

Having established a first-innings lead of 107, they reduced Northants to 57 for 4 at the 1st Central County Ground. Skipper Luke Procter (41) settled the nerves before left-arm spinner James Coles revived Sussex hopes with three of the four wickets that fell in 7.1 overs after tea that left them 152 for 8.

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McManus and Ben Sanderson resisted for eight overs until the light improved sufficiently to enable Sussex skipper John Simpson to bring back his quicks Jayden Seales and Ollie Robinson for two overs each. Robinson responded with an unplayable yorker to uproot Sanderson’s middle stump – a fitting way to celebrate his 400th first-class wicket. Spinners Jack Carson and James Coles returned before the light didn’t improve and the players shook hands shortly after 6pm.

Sussex had declared their first innings on 478 for 9 after adding 127 in 20 overs to collect maximum batting points.

Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Danny Lamb extended their seventh wicket stand to 99 from just 14.1 overs with Lamb contributing 41 before Chris Tremain held an excellent low catch at mid-wicket off Sanderson.

Hudson-Prentice, who made nine Championship fifties last season, demonstrated his effectiveness again with 73 from 60 balls and it took a clever piece of bowling by Tremain to remove him when he held one back and Hudson-Prentice drove to long-on.

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Even the normally frugal Sanderson suffered when Carson hit him for three sixes in a lively 61 from 53 balls. Aiming to clear mid-wicket again he was bowled to give left-arm spinner Zaib his fourth wicket.

Robinson and Seales plundered 30 runs from ten balls before the declaration left Northants with four overs before lunch which they couldn’t negotiate unscathed as Seales produced a lovely away-swinger which Justin Broad edged to third slip.

Sussex gained further encouragement with three wickets in ten overs after lunch. Emilio Gay (20) lost his off stump to give Seales his sixth wicket of the match and Karun Nair edged Robinson to third slip with Coles taking a superb catch low to his left.

George Bartlett drove off-spinner Carson onto the roof of the south stand only to perish two balls later before a stand of 73 between Procter and Rob Keogh steered Northants into calmer waters, for a while at least.

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Coles added to his three first-innings wickets with three more after tea. Zaib was well caught at slip trying to guide the ball to third man; Keogh was lbw to a quicker ball for a well-made 55; and Michael Finan taken at second slip on the drive. Carson sparked the collapse when he went round the wicket to have Procter leg before as he aimed through mid-wicket.

Robinson finished with 2 for 19 from ten overs in three spells and bowled at a good pace throughout. He will have been pleased to get through 32 overs in what was only his second first-class match since last July.

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