Cricket: Sussex wait for Warne's response

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The Independent Online
Notts 454-9 dec & 215-3 dec

Sussex 314-5 dec & 287-7

Match drawn

One can only admire the spirit at the County Ground. In spite of finishing at the foot of the Championship table for the third time in 11 years, Sussex are full of plans for the future, while the players remain remarkably buoyant after being so consistently on the receiving end this year.

The greatest suspense inevitably hangs over Shane Warne and it should be known next weekend whether the Australian leg spinner is to throw in his lot with Sussex or Nottinghamshire.

If Warne does not come to Hove, the Sri Lankan opener Sanath Jayasuriya is likely to be next on the shopping list of the chief executive, Tony Pigott. Chris Adams, who is not happy at Derby, has also visited here in the last two weeks and Pigott's attempts to strengthen Sussex will not end there.

On the last day of the season, they made a brave attempt to come to terms with a target of 356 in 82 overs on an excellent batting pitch. When Toby Pierce and Keith Newell were together before tea, it looked as if Sussex might end the season with their second Championship victory.

Their hopes were shattered in the cruellest possible way in the second over after tea. Newell straight drove the left-arm spinner Usman Afzaal with some power and Afzaal not only managed to get a hand to the ball but deflected it on to the stumps with Pierce out of his ground backing up. He had faced 147 balls and hit nine fours in his excellent 90.

Sussex had been given a good start by Pierce and Neil Taylor, who added 58 in the 20 overs before lunch. Soon afterwards, Taylor was caught behind fencing at a lifter from the 18-year-old Paul Franks, who is already capable of genuine pace. He looks like an exciting prospect for the future, although he will have to work hard to come to terms with the no-ball rule. He took the second Sussex wicket too, when, at 104, Mark Newell was caught behind cutting.

Pierce and Keith Newell then proceeded so cautiously that it began to look like Sussex had decided to settle for a draw, but Pierce reaching his 50 was the signal for a change of tactics. In all, 69 runs were scored in the next 13 overs and at tea Sussex were 199 for 2 needing 157 more from 31 overs. Then came Pierce's dismissal and, although Newell fought on, the target was beyond them.

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