Sussex denied in pursuit of top spot
Sussex 279 (Khan 57*, Rehman 5-70) and 115 for 5 (Trego 3-60) drew with Somerset 247 (Trescothick 123, Panesar 7-60) and 195 (Suppiah 59, Panesar 6-77)
If ever a Championship match finished in unsatisfactory and disappointing circumstances, this was it. When play was finally called off at 5pm, Sussex needed only 49 runs for victory and, potentially, leadership of the Division One table, with five wickets intact.
There was still assistance for any spinner, competent or of middling ability, which meant they would be challenged. Yet not altogether surprisingly, the weather was the deciding element.
Play did not start until noon, whereupon there was a full hour's cricket in which four wickets fell. In two overs after lunch before the next stoppage a further wicket was taken; then 7.3 overs without further loss were followed by an early tea. And then came what cricketers refer to as "proper rain". It was a sad finale, but no more than we have become accustomed to this summer.
Sussex were all too aware of the indifferent weather forecast. They needed 133 to win at the start, the openers having scored 31 overnight. No one was more keen to collect as many runs as possible before the first, inevitable break in play than Ed Joyce, the captain, who soon flailed at a ball wide of off stump from Peter Trego and was well taken by Jos Buttler to his left. It was the kind of shot he most probably would not have played at that stage of an innings in first-class cricket in normal circumstances.
He then promoted Luke Wright in the order. This appeared a sensible move when 18 runs came off the fifth over of the morning, bowled by Trego: a six over long on and three fours. A partnership with the equally quick-scoring Chris Nash, even a relatively brief one, would surely win the day. Yet the opener promptly had his off stump knocked out by Trego, who then bowled Wright, attempting to drive, as well.
What with Murray Goodwin out for a duck, held at short fine leg trying to sweep Abdur Rehman, three wickets had fallen for a single run. Somerset now appreciated they had an opportunity - weather permitting. They had to contend, though, with Luke Wells, whose first scoring shot was an elegant cover-driven four off Trego and who subsequently swung Rehman to the midwicket boundary and drove Steve Kirby for a further four in the next over.
When the players took an early tea, 24.3 overs had been bowled on a gloomy day. All the while there was the threat of further rain emanating from blighted Cardiff. "Shocking" as umpire Rob Bailey put it during one of the stoppages, and no-one could disagree. He and his colleague, Nick Cook, determined that a final re-start could be made at 5.10pm, but further rain put paid to that.
So off to Cardiff, for FLt20 Finals Day, both teams departed. "It was a rubbish day," Marcus Trescothick, Somerset's captain, said. "Not a nice day for anyone. I was a little bit disappointed over how we batted in this match - losing five wickets for seven runs is not acceptable and we shall lose Abdur Rehman, who is going back to Pakistan for some one-day internationals, for our match against Surrey next week. But every match at this stage of the season is a big one - starting with T20 finals."