Sussex promoted to Division One
Northamptonshire 125 and 48 for 2 Sussex 381
Sussex have won promotion back to Division One of the County Championship at the first time of asking after securing four batting points on the second day of their clash against Northamptonshire at Hove.
Replying to their visitors' 125 all out, Sussex made 381 with opener Chris Nash top-scoring with 164. They then reduced Northants to 48 for 2 in their second innings before bad light and rain ended play early. Northants still need to score a further 209 runs just to make Sussex bat again.
Earlier the hosts had sealed promotion when Ollie Rayner's single took them to 350, although Gloucestershire's subsequent failure to take any batting points at Grace Road against Leicestershire meant they were already assured of a top-two finish.
After the start was delayed for an hour because of rain Nash and Ben Brown took advantage of some wayward bowling as they put on 92 in 20 overs for the third wicket before lunch, with Nash setting the tone by pulling the fourth ball of the day for six off Lee Daggett. Nash completed 1,000 first-class runs for the second successive year when he reached 140 and then passed 150 for the third time in the last five games.
But Sussex collapsed dramatically after lunch, losing eight wickets for 58 runs in 24 overs, three of them in four balls from seamer David Lucas. Nash's 164 included 20 fours and six sixes from 193 balls, but his innings ended tamely when he gave an easy catch to backward point. Murray Goodwin fell in identical fashion to the next ball and although Matt Prior averted the hat-trick he steered the next ball tamely to second slip.
Sussex lost their fourth wicket of the session when Brown picked out mid-on to give James Middlebrook the first of two wickets and when Andrew Hodd edged the offspinner to slip his side had lost five for 11 in 7.4 overs.
Yasir Arafat was dropped at long leg by Daggett but he and Rayner safely secured the fourth batting point before Jack Brooks returned with the new ball to take three of the last four wickets to fall to finish with four for 88. In a lop-sided innings eight batsman had contributed just 55 runs between them but Sussex still took a first-innings lead of 256.
They soon made inroads when Northants batted again. Arafat bowled opener Stephen Peters for the second time in the match via an inside edge and then trapped Alex Wakely leg before, although Wakely was well forward.
Rain returned shortly afterwards but Sussex are well placed to wrap up victory tomorrow, which would almost certainly clinch the Division Two title.