Patel knock sees Notts cruise home
Nottinghamshire 428 (Wessels 199) and 147 for 3 beat Sussex 309 (Nash 128, Patel 4 67) and 263 (Carter 4-64) by seven wickets
Nottinghamshire pounced on the final day of a sun-drenched match to seal a seven-wicket win and edge Warwickshire off the top of Division One.
With the holiday feel of the south coast giving way to weekday mode, the visitors were businesslike, taking six wickets in the morning session to dismiss Sussex for 263 and marching to the victory target in 44.3 overs.
The best sides separate themselves from decent ones by grasping key moments and that's precisely what the visitors did to deliver their first win at Hove since 1983. It took them a point clear at the top of the table, though Warwickshire have a game in hand, and coach Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire's director of cricket, was suitably impressed.
"We haven't won here for 30 years," he said. "I think that shows how hard we find it coming to grounds where pitches are very different to the kind of pitches we would prepare. I think it's a great win, and having lost the toss I think it's an even better win."
Set a target of 145 in two sessions Nottinghamshire leapt out the blocks and were guided home by an unbeaten fifty from Samit Patel. The pitch was worn enough for the first ball of the run chase, from James Anyon, to catapult off a length and almost take Riki Wessel's throat off. Thereafter Anyon was loose and the Notts openers profited. The fifty was up in the 10th over and with that the game was as good as won.
Michael Yardy rotated his bowlers desperately, making 10 bowling changes in less than two sessions of play but without meaningful consequence. All the while Monty Panesar was struggling to make an impact. He was switched from end to end but couldn't make a decisive contribution. Despite a probing final spell from the Sea End, where he dismissed Michael Lumb and severely troubled James Taylor, Panesar managed just two wickets from 52 overs in the game. It doesn't compare well with the other spinners - Chris Nash, Patel and Yardy - who took 12 between them.
Sussex, though, were chasing the game after squandering good batting conditions on day one. "We fell short on first innings badly," Sussex coach Mark Robinson said. "We were in a position to get 400 in the first innings and didn't. From there you lose the ascendancy and we paid the penalty. Some of our shot selection and execution was probably our downfall in both innings. We've got a little bit of naivety and inexperience in our team and with a young team you're going to get those kind of mistakes."
The morning of the first day had followed a late finish to Sussex's CB40 game the night before and though Robinson was reluctant to make it an excuse he did admit that it hampered preparation. "The average player went to bed at 1.30am and that can't be right, while the other team were in bed. It's tough. We're paid to adapt, professional sportsman have to cope, but it was not ideal."
Coming into the final day Sussex had pinned their hopes on the experienced pairing of Murray Goodwin and Luke Wright, who'd added an accomplished 77 the previous evening. For almost 10 overs they advanced untroubled. But the introduction of Andre Adams quickly changed things.
He beat Goodwin with his fifth delivery and struck in his second over. Wright had past fifty, to go with his first-innings hundred, and looked well set for more but on 55 fenced outside off and Chris Read flew to his right to clasp the edge. From that chink, Nottinghamshire burst through. Patel had Ben Brown caught behind for the second time in the match and Goodwin clipped Adams to midwicket to fall for 77. He will be delighted to have found form but disgusted to get out so softly. Sussex suddenly found themselves just 104 in front with their recognised batsmen dismissed. Though the tail fought to drag the lead up another 40 it was never enough.