Northants seal thrilling chase
Northamptonshire 274 and 171 for 7 beat Sussex 175 and 269 by 3 wickets
Alex Wakely's half-century helped Northamptonshire to a thrilling three-wicket victory over Championship leaders Sussex on day three at Wantage Road.
Wakely's 51 from 127 balls, aided by former captain Nicky Boje's explosive 42 from 56 balls, steered the hosts towards their win after they had been left struggling on 88 for 5. Three wickets apiece for Jack Brooks and Lee Daggett helped Northamptonshire, who have announced the signature of former Sri Lanka bowler Chaminda Vaas, to bowl out Sussex for 274, leaving the hosts with a target of 171, which they reached inside 49 overs.
At the start of the third day Sussex had resumed on 137 for 2, 38 runs ahead of Northants, with Michael Thornley and captain Murray Goodwin on 45 and 21 respectively. Thornley completed a patient half-century from 138 balls, but he added just one more run before he edged Daggett to Ireland wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien.
England keeper Matt Prior came to the crease, but he went without troubling the scorers when he was trapped lbw in Brooks' first over of the day. Goodwin made it to 39 before he was superbly caught at second slip by David Sales off the bowling of Daggett.
The collapse continued when Andrew Hodd (5) gave Wakely the easiest of catches at mid-wicket before James Middlebrook was brought into the attack and he trapped Ollie Rayner (27) lbw.
David Willey grabbed the wicket of Rana Naved (7) in the second over after lunch when a loose shot from the Pakistan international went to Sales at second slip. James Anyon made just a single before Brooks sent his off stump spinning and Robin Martin-Jenkins was left unbeaten on 55 off 71 balls after Corey Collymore (5) was pinned leg before by Willey.
Early in the Northamptonshire chase, Stephen Peters went past 10,000 first-class career runs before he went for just four when Naved trapped him lbw. Fellow opener O'Brien made 24 before his drive off Collymore went towards Anyon at wide mid-on and he took a fantastic catch low down to his left.
Anyon then forced Sales (12) to play on to his off stump to leave Northants on 57 for three, before Rob White (9) was caught and bowled by Rayner in the first over after tea. Home captain Andrew Hall, who faced four balls without scoring, then became the next batsman out lbw, dismissed by Rayner.
Chris Nash claimed the wickets of Boje and Wakely, caught by Collymore and Prior respectively after valuable scores, before Middlebrook and Willey ensured Northamptonshire claimed their third win of the season.