Nash thorn in Notts side again
Sussex 171 and 385 for 5 (Nash 162) drew with Nottinghamshire 520 for 4 dec (Lumb 171, Taylor 163*) by 203 runs
Chris Nash, the Sussex opener, has made three of his 12 first-class centuries against Nottinghamshire but none of them in a winning cause. Given that the first corresponded with their relegation in 2009 and the second came in a defeat at Hove this season, he might feel that the latest was at least worthwhile. Sussex, 349 behind on first innings, escaped with an honourable draw, leaving Nottinghamshire to reflect on a missed opportunity that might yet prove costly.
Nash made 162, the third highest score of his career and the third highest in this match, behind Michael Lumb's 171 and the 163 with which James Taylor signed off before turning his thoughts towards a possible Test debut on Thursday. At 29, that possibility has probably eluded Nash, although he has become a solidly consistent performer in Championship cricket with an average this season of 43.35, which stacks up fairly well against most of the specialists in his position.
This was not his most testing innings, in terms of batting conditions at least. Although there was rain about, the ball did not swing appreciably and the pitch became largely unresponsive to any form of bowling after the first day. No wicket fell at all between 4.49pm on Saturday and around 12.30pm on Monday, with less than two hours in that time accounted for by rain. Yet Nash's durability was admirable -- the innings spanned more than six hours -- his application faultless, his shot selection similar and his timing sweet enough to bring many a burst of appreciative applause.
He clearly likes playing against Nottinghamshire. In his last 10 first-class innings against them, encompassing the three centuries, he has amassed 786 runs, only three times being out for fewer than 57.
It was the 216-run partnership for the first wicket, shared with the almost-equally obdurate Ed Joyce, that effectively scuppered Nottinghamshire's bid to turn their huge first innings lead into a win. It would have continued a while longer but for a stunning catch by Lumb, diving to his left at midwicket, that not only denied a certain boundary but left Joyce looking to the heavens, two short of his century.
But the clutch of wickets Nottinghamshire needed never seemed likely to materialise. Nash fell eventually to Andy Carter, whose persistence in inviting the pull and hook at last paid off thanks to Taylor being in the right place on the rope, but by then captain Chris Read was already desperate enough to throw the ball to Riki Wessels, whose off-spin is so infrequently seen that he had bowled only three overs in England in his whole career. His two first-class wickets had been taken for Mid West Rhinos, in Zimbabwe.
Wessels is not that scruffy, to be fair to him. Indeed, in the ninth of his 13 overs -- six more than he had bowled in the same match before -- he took the next wicket to fall, picking up a caught and bowled offered by Luke Wells. Michael Yardy top-edged Harry Gurney to mid-on in the next over and Murray Goodwin missed one from Patel but there was never a serious chance that Nottinghamshire would snatch a victory.
With Warwickshire unable to see off Surrey at Edgbaston, the two leaders in the First Division are level on points and games won. Warwickshire and Somerset - well positioned in third - will make up their game in hand of Nottinghamshire in the next round but of greater significance to the Trent Bridge side is the players they will now lose to international commitments, which is why Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire's director of cricket, saw it as an opportunity missed.
"After two days I thought we had every chance of winning the game but we never looked like getting 10 wickets and as with the Warwickshire-Surrey game it just goes to show that teams fight hard in this division and you don't get any easy wins," he said. "We both - ourselves and Warwickshire - probably expected to win this week and haven't.
"It is a game we could have done with winning because I know that we are going to be one or maybe two international players short for every game now. That was our last one with a full-strength side and if we are going to win the title we are going to need two or three or maybe even four players from outside the normal XI.
"We always knew it was going to happen, that we would lose one or a combination of James Taylor, Alex Hales and Samit Patel over the next five weeks, so we are not complaining. But there are some tough games to come and the players who come in are going to have to do well."
From a Sussex viewpoint, the result was rather more satisfactory, as Nash confirmed. "It was disappointing the way we played on the first day and four points is not a great return for all the hard work but the draw was a good result for us considering where we were after the first two days," he said. "But it was good to salvage a draw and we're pleased with the way the season is going. If you had said we would be through to finals day in the Twenty20, top of our group in the CB40 and fourth in the Championship at this stage we would have taken that.
"For myself to bat through for that length of time in that situation, to get us through to the draw, was quite satisfying. I'm not normally renowned for batting for days on end but the situation dictated the way I played and I quite enjoyed it.
"Nottinghamshire have a really good seam attack but I've done well against them the last few years and that's a good thing to have in my locker."