It has been a frustrating season for Sussex. Seeking a third consecutive Championship, they have won just twice and a good chance of a third victory yesterday was ruined by rain.
Ahead overnight by 335 runs, the home side would have fancied their chances. Somerset also had cause to bemoan the thin drizzle that started just before play was scheduled to begin, but their hopes of a first title are still alive. Sussex must start winning, and soon.
According to Chris Adams, the Sussex captain, Mushtaq Ahmed may play in this week's crucial match at Old Trafford against Lancashire. "He's 50-50," Adams said.
"It's a case of going through the process of getting match fit. Had we had Mushtaq this week I think we would have won this game. The rain today was a real shame. We've had a great week before today, and it was beautifully set up overnight: the weather has cocked it up. I suppose we're happier than Somerset – we've got 12 points to their 10."
Play started at 2.20pm and Sussex declared, setting an unlikely target of 336 from 54 overs. Corey Collymore soon had Justin Langer in trouble. A loud appeal for lbw was turned down before the Australian wafted outside the off-stump. Langer then inside-edged for four.
In the West Indian's next over he struck Marcus Trescothick on the body. Two overs later, Trescothick drove loosely and was caught at point by Chris Nash for just 13.
The new batsman, Zander de Bruyn, was the focus of a quickly stifled appeal when Collymore rapped him on the pads in the 10th over. Langer found his feet, however, as he cut two fours through midwicket and raced on in the next over, from Luke Wright, top-edging a boundary over the slips and hooking a bouncer as Somerset's 50 came up in the 15th over.
The game petered out after tea, although not without a couple of attacking strokes from De Bruyn. He swept the off-spinner Ollie Rayner to the boundary – a shot Langer repeated an over later – before driving Robin Martin-Jenkins for four more. Langer was out two balls after bringing up his fifty, caught by Adams at slip off Rayner. The captains shook hands on a draw just after 5pm with the visitors on 128 for 2.
Earlier, lunch had been taken at 12.30pm, under slate grey skies. Still, to the sound of church bells, there was sport, of sorts. Behind the ground – which this year celebrates 100 years of first-class cricket – there are a number of tennis courts and the thwack-thwack of tennis balls soundtracked the sight of Horsham Cricket Club's "Blotter" going up and down the ground.
At one point an enthusiastic coach could be heard counting down shots in a rally: "Ten, nine, eight, seven..." Unfortunately, he was not counting down to the start of the day's play. When that came, it came too late.