Goodwin and Rashid bask in the sun
Yorkshire 400 for 9 dec drew with Sussex 207 and 397 for 9 dec (Goodwin 118, Martin-Jenkins 56, Rashid 7-136)
Even before the formalities at Canterbury had been completed there was a slightly low-key feel to the final day at Hove, with both sides knowing a draw would be enough to keep them up and seemingly happy to settle for just that in glorious late-summer sunshine. A flurry of wickets shortly before lunch briefly raised Yorkshire's hopes of forcing a win, but Murray Goodwin's sixth hundred of the summer and a fifty from Robin Martin-Jenkins did enough to ensure that Sussex finished with a draw.
Goodwin's 1343 runs have been instrumental in keeping Sussex afloat this summer. Here he started confidently and, aside from briefly taking a back seat while Chris Adams played a half-hour cameo, was the dominant batsman. He played some lovely shots early on, the pick being a cut off Adil Rashid followed by a perfect sweep three balls later, and by the time he brought up his century he had almost ensured Sussex were safe. His innings of 118 ended tamely when he edged an attempted sweep off Rashid to slip.
That gave Rashid his sixth wicket of the innings and his fifth of the day. He bowled a marathon 30-over, three-and-a-half hour spell unchanged from the Sea End without showing any signs of weariness, and with excellent variation in pace and flight. Such was his captain's confidence in him that he bowled right through the taking of the new ball. He returned at the death to take another, finishing with 7 for 136.
Goodwin's efforts were overshadowed by Adams, the outgoing Sussex captain, who came in to a standing ovation midway through the morning, seconds after Kent's defeat, and therefore his side's safety, had been confirmed. That he was given a guard of honour by the Yorkshire fielders and the manner with which he exited, waving his bat to all corners, hinted that this might be his last first-class innings. He refused to be drawn, only saying that he hoped to be with the club next season "in some capacity".
If it was his last hurrah as a player, he certainly went out with a flourish, twice on-driving Matthew Hoggard for four, sending Adil Rashid over the short midwicket boundary in successive overs, and, best of all, skipping down the track to loft David Wainwright back over his head for a third six. His run-a-ball 35 ended when he looked to do the same to Rashid but got under the ball and was caught at mid-off.
Michael Yardy only added 12 to his overnight 60 when he was caught at short leg looking to work the ball into the on side, and Matt Prior gave Rashid his second of the morning when he sliced a drive to point. On the stroke of lunch Rashid completed his five-for when had Luke Wright leg-before, to give Yorkshire an opening.
But Martin-Jenkins played with confidence in the afternoon, all the more so after Goodwin's departure, using his reach to stifle the spinners and drive the quick bowlers, and when the ball was dug in he was quick on the pull. Ollie Raynor kept him company for an hour until he was caught at the second attempt by wicketkeeper Gerard Brophy off Wainwright, once more sending Yorkshire into an interval with a tantalising sniff of victory.
Once they had failed to make an immediate post-tea interval, the game was allowed to meander to its premature conclusion. By the time Martin-Jenkins fell leg-before to Rashid in his first over from the Cromwell Road End it was of little more than statistical relevance, although the crowd, savouring every last moment of the 171st day of the longest first-class summer on record, stayed to the bitter end.
In defiance of how late in the year it is, it was perfect cricket-watching weather. The deckchairs at the Cromwell Road End were fully occupied early on, ice-cream sales were brisk, and there was enough reddening bare flesh on display to suggest this was mid-summer instead of early autumn. The only giveaway was the tannoy giving out Brighton & Hove Albion's half-time score at the tea interval.
There have been later finishes to the season, although not since 1880, but if the ECB has its way we might be watching into early October by 2010 to fit in the plethora of Twenty20 cricket. If the conditions are like today, few will complain.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo