Cricket: Hemmings saves an extraordinary day: Sussex lose their heads

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Notts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .368-7 dec and forfeit

Sussex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81-4 dec and 278-9

Match drawn

AFTER two days washed out, bemused onlookers had to endure a period of old-fashioned nonsense before the two parties agreed to play properly here yesterday. Whereupon Sussex, having appeared to be coasting to their second Championship success, almost suffered ignominious defeat.

They lost four wickets in five deliveries before Eddie Hemmings blocked out the last three, 10 runs short of their target. It was difficult to decide which was the dafter passage.

The silly business came about because Sussex clearly did not fancy giving Nottinghamshire all day to bowl them out as they chased 369 to win, which would have been the order had the double-forfeit route been agreed. Instead, after some force-fed runs and a forfeit, they settled on 288 in what became 84 overs.

Not that the manoeuvrings did not bring some light relief. When the nonsense began, with Sussex 30 for 2 and an hour gone, Tim Robinson, to the great amusement of his team, took a wicket with his first ball, Martin Speight sweeping straight to midwicket to join Graham Gooch and Tom Moody among the captain's four first- class victims.

When normal service resumed, Sussex made such serene progress that the result looked in the bag.

Bill Athey (94) and Jamie Hall (56) put on 159 for the first wicket at three an over. They wobbled briefly when Afford removed Hall and David Smith in consecutive overs, followed immediately by the demise of Athey.

Speight then survived a chance on 11 out of 179, but at three down with 92 needed when the last 20 overs began, you would not have bet against Speight and Alan Wells seeing the job through. But the odd ball was turning now and Speight did not last long. When Wells perished to a quicker ball from Jimmy Adams, the fun began.

With 25 to get from six overs, even 16 from two, a cool head or two would have been enough. But Carlos Remy and Peter Moores holed out as Afford (5 for 87) took two in two balls, Franklyn Stephenson ditto as Adams delivered the last over. And when Ian Salisbury was bowled by the next ball, it was left to Hemmings to spare some blushes.