A sense of urgency crept into the Sussex batting late yesterday, when it became apparent that the home side were involved in not one but two races.
According to the forecast, the next two days will be laden with rain, so the title race suddenly took second place to the one against the weather as Sussex strove for maximum batting bonus points, the bare minimum needed in order to keep pace with Lancashire.
They also had to keep pace with Hampshire, who are not that far behind in the chase for First Division honours.
Thus it was that the Sussex captain Chris Adams emerged after tea and singled out his opposite number Shane Warne for a ferocious onslaught, which saw 14 runs coming off the Australian leg spinner's first over of the evening session.
Then calamity. Adams lost Murray Goodwin, his fourth-wicket partner, who had reached his 29th hundred for the county just before the interval. The pair had put on 120 and Sussex looked set to reach that crucial 400 mark before the close, but Adams then followed.
Matt Prior restored the momentum, first in a breezy 49-run sixth-wicket stand with Robin Martin-Jenkins, then adding a gleefully pugnacious 39 runs with Yasir Arafat, which duly brought up the 400.
But the backbone of the Sussex innings was Goodwin. His hundred stand with Adams was the second century partnership in which he had played a part, the first being an invaluable 132 with rookie batsman Chris Nash. Nash reached his maiden Championship fifty and was looking comfortable until he essayed a sweep shot against Shaun Udal and gloved a gentle catch to Warne running around to short fine leg from slip.
Goodwin was not distracted from his work. He applied himself ever more diligently and was eventually rewarded with the 46th hundred of his career and his sixth of a bountiful season which has taken him to the brink of 1500 runs.
But shortly after tea, Goodwin, who had looked imperious and impregnable on the back foot, prodded forward once too often to Warne and was snapped up by Nic Pothas.
The wicketkeeper then accounted for Adams off Chris Tremlett, but not before the Sussex captain had passed 1,000 runs in a season for the eighth time.Reuse content