Sussex pile up the runs to deny Leicestershire
It's been a sporting week to remember for the sportsmen of the Leicester area '“ but their county cricketers couldn't force another victory for the East Midlands when they were held to a draw by Sussex at Hove.
Chris Nash batted for more than seven hours to score his second hundred of the season as Sussex denied Leicestershire on the final day of the Specsavers County Championship match.
Nash spent part of the winter working with Gary Kirsten and the former South African opener, who once batted for more than 14 hours in a Test match, would have admired the adhesive qualities Nash showed in making a chanceless 144 to add to the 119 he made against Essex a fortnight ago.
The 32-year-old batted for seven hours and 26 minutes, more than an hour longer than his previous longest innings, faced 315 balls and hit 21 fours but when he was caught behind down the leg side in the 110th over Leicestershire’s hopes of winning were rekindled with Sussex five down and only 32 runs ahead.
Ben Brown was out shortly afterwards to Charlie Shreck and in a tense final hour Ollie Robinson needed lengthy treatment after ducking into a bouncer from Clint McKay that removed part of his helmet.
However, Robinson and Ajmal Shahzad survived, taking Sussex to 377 for 6 when the players shook hands on a draw.
Nash said: “I’m delighted. I worked hard during the winter with Gary Kirsten and it has paid off.
“Gary stays in touch and he texted me at tea and I know he’s delighted with how I have started the season, but the coaching staff here have made sure I keep doing the things that we worked on. I have tried to be more relaxed and play at an even tempo. My job here was just to bat as long as I could but because I’m more relaxed I get less tired, it was disappointing to get out when I did because I still felt good.
“There’s no doubt pitches are better this season. Andrew Strauss (ECB Managing Director) wants games lasting four days so they mirror international cricket as much as possible, he wants spinners to be involved more and he wants bowlers having to find different ways of getting batsmen out. But even on this pitch there was enough in the wicket for bowlers who got it in the right areas.
“Our performance on the first two days was unacceptable but I thought we fought back well. There’s no doubt it’s going to be a graft this summer to get promoted because every team in the second division is showing a lot of fight.”
Nash didn’t offer a chance all day as he settled for quiet accumulation in the sheet anchor role. A first-wicket stand of 136 with Ed Joyce gave Sussex the belief that they could save the game on a placid pitch which was offering little assistance to Leicestershire’s five seamers.
Joyce himself batted for 200 minutes for his 69 before chasing a ball from Wayne White that he should have ignored and although Matt Machan (13) also fell before lunch, Nash was able to form another important stand with the experienced Ross Taylor for the third wicket.
Together they added 93 and used up 29 overs although Taylor was fortunate to be reprieved on 21 when Paul Horton dropped a straightforward chance at slip off the unlucky McKay.
Nash briefly came out of his shell to reach his century with successive fours off Shreck but he scored only 30 runs between lunch and tea. There was belated reward for McKay when he slanted one into Taylor (62) before Nash and Luke Wells took Sussex to within eight runs of making Leicestershire bat again when Neil Dexter trapped Wells (23) leg before with the ninth ball after tea.
The dismissals of Nash and Brown in the space of three overs briefly re-energised Leicestershire but they gave up the chase eight overs left.
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