County Championship round-up: Goodwin and bad light combine to get Sussex out of trouble
Murray Goodwin's second century of the season and his 35th for Sussex steered the champions away from potential trouble to clinch a draw at Taunton, where Somerset's lack of a top-quality spinner made it difficult for Justin Langer's side to take advantage of what might have been a winning position on the last day.
Having been made to follow on 354 runs in arrears, Sussex began the day still 318 behind and with Somerset hopeful that nine wickets in 96 overs might be within their scope.
On a placid pitch, however, Somerset's quartet of medium pacers only occasionally caused the Sussex batsmen significant problems, while Ian Blackwell sent down 22 overs of left-arm spin without success.
Sussex, who lost Chris Nash without a run on the board on Friday evening, were granted an early let-off when Carl Hopkinson was dropped at slip in the fifth over of the morning.
The miss followed the pattern of the match, in which Somerset's catching was poor, and this time it was their captain, Langer, at fault. Somerset had to wait another hour for their first breakthrough, when Hopkinson bottom-edged Peter Trego to the wicketkeeper after a 100-run stand for the second wicket, and a further 80 minutes to claim a second, when Michael Yardy (72) edged Steffan Jones to second slip.
Goodwin completed a 169-ball hundred with his 10th boundary shortly after tea and when bad light stopped play with 19 possible overs left, captains Langer and Chris Adams shook hands on a draw.
None of yesterday's possible results was a threat to Nottinghamshire's early-season lead in Division One, which shows the team promoted with Somerset last season with a commanding advantage following their three-day victory over Lancashire at Trent Bridge.
Yet Chris Read, in his first season as captain and wicketkeeper, believes the significance of his team's strong start cannot be measured until later in the campaign. "Having won the title with Nottinghamshire in 2005, I know what it takes over a six-month period and how much can go wrong so I'm very wary of predicting that we can stay at the top," he said.
Read said he had not given up hope of regaining his place in the England team, especially after national selector Geoff Miller hinted last week that Read's participation last winter in the rebel Indian Cricket League had not closed the door.
"I'm aware of what was said but for me nothing has changed," he added. "I'd like to think that going away to play in the ICL has no effect on whether I will be selected or not because at the time I signed up there was no official word [about the implications] from the ECB.
"Last season was the first season that I did not think about [England] too much and now I have plenty to occupy my mind as captain. But if I'm keeping consistently and scoring enough runs, I'll never give up."
The Indian Premier League has tempted another player away from county cricket in mid-contract. Three weeks after Brad Hodge announced he had decided to play for Kolkata Knight Riders rather than honour his contract with Lancashire, Andre Nel has left Essex to join Mumbai Indians.
Unlike Hodge, whose abrupt departure left Lancashire initially without cover for the Australian's projected five-week absence, South African fast bowler Nel will miss only one match for Essex. His stay at Chelmsford was due to end with today's Friends Provident Trophy match against Middlesex.
Luke Wright, the Sussex and England all-rounder who turned down an IPL approach, has disclosed that a six-figure offer to join Mumbai was made to him directly by Sachin Tendulkar.
"I was on my way to Southampton to train with England Lions last week and I got a call from Sachin out of the blue," Wright told the Brighton Argus. "It was a special moment talking to a legend like Sachin and it was very tempting. But it just wasn't the right time. The motivation of playing for England is greater than money."
Wright, who has played five one-day internationals, hopes to play in the 50-over series and Twenty20 international against New Zealand next month.
In Division Two, Worcestershire, forced to follow on 230 behind, were 196-3, Stephen Moore top scoring with 84, when their match with Gloucestershire was abandoned in bad light as a draw, while a stubborn rearguard from Dan Birch and Freddie Klokker led Derbyshire to safety in another weather-affected match at Cardiff.
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