Scott Newman pulled Surrey back from the brink with a gritty, unbeaten 86 to earn a hard-fought draw against the County Champions, Sussex, on a tense final day here yesterday.
Newman, a regular opener, had to bat down the order after missing much of Sussex's innings when he injured a hamstring in the field. The Londoners needed to bat out at least 82 overs - reduced by two short interruptions from the weather - and looked in desperate straits in pursuit of 189 to make Sussex bat again when three wickets fell, for four runs, in 12 balls to leave them at 88 for 7.
But Newman was untroubled in a century stand with Martin Bicknell which occupied 23 overs and was the turning point in a rain-affected match. Even Mushtaq Ahmed's 1,000th first-class wicket - a googly which bowled Bicknell - failed to give Sussex the time they needed to bring off a victory which at start of play had looked unlikely following Sunday's third-day washout.
In the morning, the Sussex captain, Chris Adams, allowed Mohammad Akram and Jason Lewry a half-hour continuation of their last-wicket stand as the visitors posted 493 all out. Surrey's batsmen began their task well, as Jonathan Batty and his makeshift opening partner Ian Salisbury dealt with Lewry and Akram's new-ball bursts.
But once Akram had shifted Salisbury almost on the stroke of lunch, Surrey began to look brittle. They were granted two overs of respite by a late-morning shower and avoided another couple in mid-afternoon when, in accordance with new regulations, the teams were ordered off the field either side of two wickets in consecutive balls as lightning flashed across the ground, but no rain fell.
Surrey were not about to complain, needing all the help going as they struggled to withstand Akram (4 for 85) and Robin Martin-Jenkins (3 for 47). It was, therefore, left to Newman and his fellow pulled hamstring sufferer Bicknell - batting with a runner - to keep Surrey alive.
Newman not only did that, but plundered 11 boundaries in a 47-ball 50. He rarely appeared troubled, even when James Ormond became Akram's fourth victim, bringing No 11 Tim Murtagh to the crease. Newman's last deed was to pull Akram's final ball of the match for six before Adams conceded at 5.45pm, with five overs remaining and Surrey far enough (66 runs) in front, on 254 for 9, that Sussex could no longer win.