Sussex seal promotion

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Chris Nash

Sussex overcame the loss of five wickets for 11 runs to pass 350 and secure the promotion-clinching seventh bonus point

Sussex have won promotion back to Division One of the LV= 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, Sussex made 381 thanks largely to opener Chris Nash’s 164.

They then reduced Northants to 48 for two in their second innings before bad light and rain ended play early. Northants still need a further 209 to make Sussex bat again.

Earlier, the hosts sealed promotion when Ollie Rayner’s single took them to 350 - giving them seven bonus points in the match - although Gloucestershire’s subsequent failure to take any batting points at Grace Road against Leicestershire meant Sussex 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, 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 and spanned 193 balls, but his innings ended tamely when he gave an easy catch to backward point.

Murray Goodwin fell in identical fashion immediately after, and, although Matt Prior averted the hat-trick, he steered the next ball 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 off-spinner to slip they had lost five wickets for 11 runs in 7.4 overs.

Yasir Arafat was dropped at long-leg by Daggett but he and Rayner safely secured the crucial fourth batting point before Jack Brooks returned with the new ball to take three of the last four wickets to fall. He finished with 4-88.

In a lop-sided innings eight batsman 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 despite a good stride.

Rain returned shortly afterwards but Sussex are well placed to wrap up victory tomorrow, which would almost certainly clinch the Second Division title.

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