LEICESTERSHIRE v SUSSEX
Luke Wells, with 90 not out, guided Sussex to a five-wicket victory on the final afternoon of the match against Leicestershire at the Fischer County Ground.
Needing early breakthroughs when Sussex resumed chasing 232 to win, Leicestershire did dismiss night-watchman Danny Briggs when only five runs had been added to the visitors’ overnight score of 100-2.
Clint McKay found the edge of the right-hander’s bat, and Paul Horton at first slip held a brilliant catch one-handed to his left when the ball seemed to have gone past him.
Wells, 27 not out overnight, had played himself back in though, and the left-hander received solid support from Stiaan van Zyl in compiling a partnership of 70 for the fourth wicket. Neither batsman took unnecessary risks, though Wells did go to his half-century in style, hitting off-spinner Colin Ackermann for a beautifully timed straight six.
He did lose van Zyl shortly before lunch, when the South African unaccountably decided to leave a delivery from Ben Raine bowled from around the wicket which went on to knock his off-stump out of the ground.
REPLAY | Raine with his third wicket of the innings, dismissing van Zyl pic.twitter.com/1aor5FZdRN— Leicestershire CCC🏏 (@leicsccc) June 12, 2017
Luke Wright went shortly after the break, edging a catch to Horton at first slip off Zak Chappell, and if Ned Eckersley had held a Wells edge behind the stumps off the same bowler shortly afterwards, Leicestershire might have had entertained hopes of an unlikely victory.
The chance was spilled, however, and Wells and former Leicestershire player Michael Burgess saw the visitors home.
A pleased Sussex head coach Mark Davis, said: “We’re delighted, because with our other two wins this season we were pretty much always ahead of the game but with this one we came from behind, showed loads of character and loads of skill and guts, and it was a proper team effort.
“That last wicket partnership between Danny Briggs and Vernon Philander to get us within touching distance on first innings was very important, because batting last on a wicket where it was going increasingly up and down was never going to be easy.
“Even chasing 232 was a big ask, because the ball was going up and down and they bowled well and kept coming at us. Luke Wells was outstanding, he was under huge pressure on a difficult pitch.”
GLOUCESTERSHIRE v NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Nottinghamshire's prospects of opening a commanding lead at the top of the Specsavers County Championship Second Division table were dealt a blow by Gloucestershire's Graeme van Buuren at Bristol.
The South African registered a match-saving 88 not out and reached 4,000 first-class runs in the process as Gloucestershire batted throughout the final day to post 254-5 in their second innings and secure a notable draw.
Having deployed every weapon within his extensive armoury to little avail, Nottinghamshire captain Chris Read had no option but to shake hands at 5.23pm, Gloucestershire claiming nine points and the visitors 11.
Seeking a fifth win in seven outings this summer, the east Midlands county looked set to increase their advantage over nearest rivals Kent and Worcestershire when reducing Gloucestershire to 35-3 shortly following the resumption.
Still trailing the unbeaten leaders by 197 with seven second-innings wickets standing, the home side found themselves lodged firmly between a rock and a hard place.Yet that was as close as Nottinghamshire came to forcing a result, frustrated as they were thereafter by notable contributions from Chris Dent, van Buuren and Phil Mustard.
Determined to redress the balance after conceding a first-innings deficit of 232 against arguably the best team in the division, Gloucestershire applied themselves diligently with the bat to at least make partial amends for the humiliating innings defeat sustained at Trent Bridge last month.
More than any other player, van Buuren proved an obstacle to Nottinghamshire ambition, the diminutive all-rounder summoning defiance aplenty in an admirably patient innings.
He batted for five hours, faced 242 balls, accrued 9 fours and a six and shared in restorative stands of 91 and 92 with Dent and Mustard for the fourth and fifth wickets respectively to steer his team to safety.
Having chiseled 50 from 170 balls and withstood a stern examination from eight different bowlers, a series of attacking fields and the second new ball, he refused to drop his guard and saw the job through to the end, turning down the chance to pursue three figures in the interests of the team.
Dent will no doubt be kicking himself after missing out on a hundred that appeared to be his for the asking. The left-handed opener had done the hard work in raising 71 from 147 balls when he inexplicably played across the line to a straight one from Brett Hutton and was given out lbw.
Any thoughts Nottinghamshire's bowlers might have harboured of running through the lower middle order and tail were effectively sabotaged by van Buuren and Mustard, who remained at large for 32 overs to frustrate the visitors.
Mustard clipped Luke Fletcher to Jake Libby at point for 39 to suggest the prospect of an exciting climax, but van Buuren and Jack Taylor closed the door on any such notion, staging an unbroken partnership of 36 for the sixth wicket.
Resuming on 31-1, Gloucestershire's prospects of saving the game appeared rather less sanguine when Harry Gurney struck twice in the space of as many overs from the Bristol Pavilion end, dismissing Will Tavare and Gareth Roderick lbw to ramp up the pressure on the home side.
But once the sun came out and an already slow pitch, which offered little or no encouragement to the bowlers, flattened out, the task of removing the last seven wickets became increasingly difficult.