The fix that the modern generation crave of instant excitement was missing yesterday at Hove but, and this is the beauty of the longer game, it was still a thoroughly gripping day of cricket. Our summer sport is curious like that.
Both Sussex and Lancashire believe they can end Surrey's dominance of the Frizzell County Championship and Chris Adams, the belligerent Sussex captain, who scored his second century of the match, has given his team an excellent opportunity to force victory on a wearing pitch.
His innings, watchful early on after the loss of two quick wickets to Peter Martin, accumulative in the second session, and aggressive late in the day, was well thought-out and well executed - unlike the ostentatious kissing of his badge on reaching three figures.
Richard Montgomerie also played well, supporting Adams through the more difficult morning session, and only the introduction of Chris Schofield, the Lancashire leg-spinner, and the easy runs he offered altered the opener's unassuming style.
When Adams brings on his own leggie today, it will not be with the fear of long-hops and full-tosses but to win the game. Mushtaq Ahmed has already taken 77 Championship wickets this season, but according to Peter Moores, Sussex's director of cricket, he is still some way short of his personal target.
"I had lunch with him twice before signing him," said Moores, "and he said to me, 'I want to play, I want to bowl and I will get 100 wickets'. What struck me was how much he wanted to prove to everyone that he was still one of the best spinners in the world."
Mushtaq against Stuart Law, Carl Hooper and to a lesser extent Mal Loye should be fascinating viewing and probably decisive to the result. "I think [a lead of] around 300 will make it very hard for Lancashire to keep us out," said Moores, "especially with the wicket breaking up a bit and turning, but it's like them wanting Adams to get one, we hope that Law and Hooper get good 'uns."
If they do they will probably come from the Pakistani leg-spinner, who has yet to sign for next season. "I don't foresee a problem, because he is happy and we are obviously happy," said Moores.
Undoubtedly Mushtaq has been a catalyst for Sussex, but Moores is adamant that the players do not rely on him alone. "I want to develop this club to compete with Surrey for a number of seasons, and because so many of our senior players are young, I think we can," he argued. "The majority, like James Kirtley and Robin Martin-Jenkins, are mid-twenties, but also the young guys like Ambrose, Prior and Yardy have performed, especially early on in the season, when the top order struggled," he continued.
Indeed, Sussex have improved consistently in recent years. Two seasons ago they won the Second Division. Last year they stayed up, and now they are within a whisker of the top spot.
"We felt last year that we could aim for it when we beat Surrey here by chasing 240," added Moores. "It gave us belief and we learned a lot about how to win. Winners have a rough edge and that is what we want to develop, and not just for now."
It is a statement every bit as bold as Mushtaq's - and both of them are looking more likely with every passing game.Reuse content