Sussex stall as Surrey make point
Sussex 295 (Yardy 69, Linley 4-68) and 201 for 2 (Nash 102*) drew with Surrey 456 for 9 dec (Solanki 130, de Bruyn 111, Tremlett 54, Panesar 5-142)
Sussex remain unbeaten while Surrey will go into the second half of the Championship season still looking for a first victory. But the fortunes of both these sides, one feels, have reached a turning point.
For Sussex, the leadership of Division One - held for three weeks - has been handed over to Yorkshire, with Durham up to second place. And, as in their last two matches against Nottinghamshire and Middlesex, the final day was all about ensuring safety rather than trying to press for victory.
Cracks have started to appear in their cricket where none were obvious a month ago and they could do with a commanding performance - of the kind that swept Yorkshire away right at the start of this campaign - before T20 takes over in a fortnight.
At least Sussex never remotely flirted with defeat. That would have been a spirit-denter, after the first-day washout, but a first-innings deficit of 161 was erased for the loss of just two wickets. Thereafter, opener Chris Nash secured a welcome first century of the season before hands were shaken with 19 of the possible 78 overs unused.
For Surrey, nothing would cheer quite like a Championship victory. But by earning maximum bonus points for the first time this season, and through putting themselves on the front foot with both ball and bat, they can take great heart from their visit to the Castle Ground.
No side is too good to be relegated, as plenty of clubs have found in any number of sports, but Surrey are moving in the right direction - now third from bottom, with Somerset as well as Derbyshire below them.
A gusting wind made life uncomfortable for players and spectators alike on Saturday. But while Surrey's bowlers found it hard at times to keep their balance, the real enemy for the visitors was a pitch by now completely docile as well as slow.
When Sussex were dismissed for less than 300 on Thursday, there was just enough in the surface for seamers to keep enthusiasm levels high. Come the end, though, it was extremely tough going. Little wonder that Chris Tremlett decided to have his fun with the bat early on the final day.
Surrey needed 37 runs from 10 overs to claim a fifth batting point, but what should have been a breeze began to look increasingly unlikely as Zander de Bruyn - having completed his first century of the campaign - and Zafar Ansari pottered along with apparently minimal intent.
Both fell to Monty Panesar, who finished with one of his less impressive five-fors, and it was left to Nos. 9 and 10, Tremlett and Tim Linley, to seal the deal. No bother.
With 12 needed from the final bonus-point over, bowled by Steve Magoffin, Tremlett decided to get into T20 mode - launching the Australian for two huge sixes. And then, just to prove it was no fluke, he clouted him for two more during the pace bowler's next over.
A brief but brutal exhibition of big hitting, with Linley playing his part, saw 74 runs added in seven overs. It ended when Tremlett holed out, having clubbed 54 from 33 deliveries, and Surrey promptly declared. They must have hoped that onslaught would prove to be the springboard to success. It was never likely to happen, though, and Nash made sure it did not with a solid, undefeated 102.
Still, Surrey's director of cricket, Chris Adams, was in cheerful mood. "In the previous games, we've let ourselves down in one session and that has been hurting us," he said. "But this was comfortably our most complete performance yet and we feel had we had four days' play this would have been our first win.
"I'm confident. This team is too good to be in the position it is. Clearly we would like more points than we have but we still feel we can finish this season in a very strong position."
Yorkshire are next for Surrey - and they expect to have Kevin Pietersen among their number for that game at Headingley.