Yates weathers the storm
Lancashire 191 (Davies 59, Magoffin 4-36) and 19-0 drew with Sussex298 (Yardy 139) and 216-5 dec (Yardy 45, Hamilton-Brown 44, Machan 44*)
A match which had been threatened by the weather during the latter stages of its first three days eventually succumbed to the elements on the final afternoon. At 3.30pm a final heavy shower scudded in from the west and umpires Mark Benson and Steve Gale waved the white flag. They were quickly followed by the Old Trafford groundstaff who pulled on the white sheeting.
Only 8.4 overs had been possible on a last day in which Lancashire openers Paul Horton and Luis Reece had progressed to 19 for 0 against the predictable excellence of Sussex's new ball attack. Already it was fairly clear to neutral observers that the prospect of the home side scoring the 323 they needed to win after Sussex's overnight declaration was remote in the extreme, although the post-match bullishness of Lancashire coach Gary Yates was understandable.
"Today had the makings of a cracking game," said Yates. "If we'd batted for two sessions and got into a decent position at tea time would have had a chance of going for the runs. So we're a little disappointed the game didn't materialise in that way."
With all but Durham and Northants having played four matches, which is to say, a quarter of the championship programme, the draw leaves Lancashire in seventh place in Division One. That is an accurate reflection of the bowling virtues and batting problems of Glen Chapple's team. Sussex lie second, and for all that Somerset hammered them by an innings last week, they look capable of being in the mix come September.
"Overall, we have to say that Sussex had the better of the game and we don't deny that," admitted Yates. "They've probably been the strongest side we've played yet. Magoffin is an outstanding bowler and I think Sussex will do well.
"We fell horribly short of where we wanted to be with the bat in the first innings and that put us on the back foot for the remainder of the game. One of the problems we're facing is that we're not getting runs on the board in the first innings.
"We've been short, we know it and the batsmen are addressing the problem. I don't think it's through a lack of skill. The batters are working hard to come good in the next game. Confidence and belief plays a big part in that."
However, Yates was keen to praise the efforts of both wicketkeeper Alex Davies and all-rounder Tom Smith, for both of whom the Sussex match represented something of a triumph.
"I'm delighted for Alex," said Yates. "He came in off the back of a one-day hundred for the second team and he went in at a pressure time when we were in trouble, but he and Tom Smith batted beautifully."
"Alex is an aggressive young lad by nature and the way he bats but he mixed aggression with good defence and he had a really good game. He's a real good competitor who's got all the shots and he dealt with the pressure superbly."