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John Ward at Trent Bridge
May 23, 2008
Sussex 277 and 259 beat Nottinghamshire 212 (Read 56, Swann 41, Collymore 4-60) by 73 runs
Just after 12.30pm, Sussex wrapped up their first Championship victory of the season by a comfortable margin of 73 runs over the home side, Nottinghamshire. It was an expected result, and there were no twists on the final morning to beguile the small number of spectators.
Nottinghamshire overnight were 114 for 5, with all their specialist batsmen gone, and needing a further 172 runs to win the match. It was not impossible, as they are well off for allrounders, but in the context of this low-scoring match, it was always going to be unlikely.
However, the confidence and application with which Chris Read and Graeme Swann applied themselves from the start of play showed that Nottinghamshire had by no means given up the fight. They began steadily and then started opening up, selecting the right delivery to hit and untroubled by the bowling. Read brought up his fifty (81 balls) with a superb straight drive to the boundary off Mushtaq Ahmed, and then pumped Corey Collymore through the covers for four.
But this was the last real defiance offered, the last real challenge to Sussex's supremacy in this match. Perhaps Read relaxed his concentration momentarily, as he pushed a catch, bat and pad, to short leg off Mushtaq and was gone for 56. Notts were 159 for six after a stand of 78 that had almost doubled the score. As has happened so often in this match, a blossoming partnership was cut off just when it was on the point of changing the game.
The writing was not on the wall yet, but it seemed to affect Swann. He too had played his strokes confidently, despite one fortunate escape when a cover drive went in the air between two fielders, but in the next over he played a weak shot outside the off stump to Collymore and was caught in the slips. He scored 41; 163 for 7.
There were still two capable batsmen left in Mark Ealham and Paul Franks, and they held up Sussex for a while. Again, however, nothing major developed as Ealham departed for 11, out to a very sharp catch by Luke Wright in the gully off a firm hit from Collymore; 188 for 8.
By now the writing really was on the wall, although the next pair did take the total past 200, before Darrin Pattinson pushed forward and was adjudged lbw to Mushtaq for 9; 203 for 9. A visit by Charlie Shreck to the crease is never a prolonged pleasure, but Paul Franks did manage a couple of lusty blows, taking the total to 212 and his own score to 30 before his partner was caught in the slips and the match was over.
Collymore, a quiet unsung hero, did sterling work to take 4 for 60, and there were two wickets each for Jason Lewry and Mushtaq, whose bowling, unlike his appealing, is not yet quite back to its best. It was a well-fought match, with Sussex just ahead for most of the time and never really losing their advantage.
The pitch was by no means a rogue, but batsmen found it hard to play their shots and only Matt Prior, the undoubted but unofficial 'Man of the Match' really mastered it. Scoring was rarely quick, therefore, and though the connoisseur would have found interest in the fight, the limited-overs spectator would probably have labelled it in the 'boring' category.
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