Wells takes plaudits as Sussex reflect and Notts celebrate

Mark Davis had high praise for Luke Wells after the Sussex batsmen ended the season on a high - helping his county to a draw that secured a fourth-place finish in division two of the Specsavers county championship.
Luke Wells was the second top run-scorer in the championship / Picture by Phil WestlakeLuke Wells was the second top run-scorer in the championship / Picture by Phil Westlake
Luke Wells was the second top run-scorer in the championship / Picture by Phil Westlake

It was a day of celebration for visitors Notts - the draw confirmed their promotion back to division one. But it was more one of quiet reflection for Sussex, who ended up 27 points short of promotion.

Davis said: "It was a good game. Both sides ended up getting big scores from a poor position on what was a decent pitch. Unfortunately, we lost too much time in the game to get a positive result. For us it was good to see some of our younger players like Michael Burgess step up and show us what they can do. He has shown his batting credentials all year. We think we’ve signed a very young cricketer there and we’re thrilled we’ve got him with us.

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"Luke Wells has had an exceptional season. He’s moved his game forward and to finish as leading run scorer even though he missed two games is outstanding. He bats with more aggression now, as we saw today, but he can still play the long innings as well. His best years are to come and he’s starting to reach the potential he has always had."

The 12 points Notts secured were enough to make sure of an immediate return to the top flight after one season along with champions Worcestershire and consign Northamptonshire to third place.

With more than 60 overs lost to rain and bad light during the first three days the chances of a positive result dwindled when there was no play before lunch because of a wet outfield.

But Sussex captain Wells was determined to finish the season in style, racing to a 97-ball hundred, his fourth of the season. The left-hander hit 13 fours and four sixes as he took his aggregate for the summer to 1,292 runs at an average of 64.60. He finished leading run-scorer in Division Two with only Surrey’s Kumar Sangakkara scoring more Championship runs.

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While he and Harry Finch were putting on 123 at five an over there was the prospect that Sussex might declare and set Nottinghamshire a tempting target. But Finch was caught off a top edge for 43 and Samit Patel ended Wells’ innings in his next over when he was bowled playing around a yorker-length delivery.

By that stage Notts had spinners operating at both ends and four substitute fielders on the pitch including their strength and conditioning coach Ross Herridge.

Matt Carter picked up three wickets with his off breaks either side of tea. Phil Salt (1) was bowled heaving across the line and top-edges accounted for Chris Nash (1) and Delray Rawlins (0). Patel took a third wicket when wicketkeeper Chris Read took the 1,051st and final match of his 20-year career to dismiss Michael Burgess for 19.

Sussex had lost 5 for 24 in eight overs at that stage but Chris Jordan and Jofra Archer added 49 together before Sussex declared on 229 for 7, a lead of 317. Archer had earlier signed a contract extension with Sussex until 2020, having been capped by the county on Wednesday.

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Read was given a standing ovation by the Hove crowd and a guard of honour by both teams when he walked out for the final session of his career and another when he walked off at the end. Fittingly he retires after one of the most successful seasons in Nottinghamshire’s history with promotion added to their success in the NatWest T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup.

As for Sussex, they head off for the winter hoping they are the ones celebrating promotion in a year's time.