Sussex extend Division Two lead over Middlesex with Lord's bore draw

Just 18 wickets fell across four days on an unresponsive surface at HQ

Jack Carson hits his stride, LV= Insurance County Championship, Lancashire vs Sussex, Emirates Old Trafford, April 09, 2021

Jack Carson bowled a mammoth 56 overs for his four wickets  •  Getty Images

Middlesex 613 for 9 (Robson 136, Higgins 106, Carson 4-166) drew with Sussex 554 for 9 dec (Simpson 167, Pujara 129)
Middlesex and Sussex maintained their status as Vitality County Championship Division Two promotion front-runners as their match at Lord's petered out into a draw.
It looked inevitable that the spoils would be shared once the home side had avoided the follow-on early on the final day and they went on to post 613 for 9 declared in reply to Sussex's total of 554 for 9.
Nathan Fernandes missed out on a century by nine runs, while Jack Davies struck a career-best 68 and Henry Brookes registered his first half-century as a Middlesex player, with off-spinner Jack Carson taking 4 for 166.
Captains Leus du Plooy and John Simpson shook hands at 4.50pm, with the draw enabling Sussex to increase their advantage at the top to eight points over Middlesex, who remain in second place.
Any faint prospect of a positive outcome essentially disappeared as early as the third over of the morning, when Fernandes clipped Fynn Hudson-Prentice for two to steer Middlesex past the follow-on target of 405.
With their over rate in negative territory the previous evening, Sussex were soon utilising spin at both ends and the seventh-wicket pair continued to chip away at the deficit as they built a partnership of 119.
Having swept Carson over the short boundary for six, Davies overtook his previous best of 65, but added just three more before he was out in the off-spinner's next over to a ball that turned away from him and took the edge.
Fernandes looked assured against both seam and spin, cutting and sweeping confidently to usher his side's total beyond 500 and move within range of what would have been a second first-class century.
The left-hander gained a reprieve when he was put down at backward square leg, pulling a short ball from Tom Clark - but he failed to take advantage, repeating the stroke to the next delivery. This time James Coles dived to take a tumbling catch in the deep.
The remainder of the afternoon largely involved batting practice for the Middlesex tail. Sussex deployed nine bowlers and, at one stage, set a field with all nine men ranged in a semi-circle on the off side.
Luke Hollman shared a sedate ninth-wicket partnership of 65 with Brookes, which eventually came to an end when the left-hander was bowled around his legs by Ollie Robinson's slower ball.
However, Brookes completed his half-century - the sixth of his career - after tea, swatting Coles' full toss into the grandstand and finishing 52 not out as he and Ethan Bamber steered Middlesex to the 12th-highest total in their history.

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County Championship Division Two