Streak and Frost are too cool for Sussex

Warwickshire 346 & 205-7 Sussex 482-9 dec Match drawn

All season it has been their batting which has sustained Warwickshire's Championship challenge and yesterday that was underlined in emphatic fashion by a cussed, unbroken eighth-wicket stand which dragged them back from the brink of defeat against the only side with any realistic chance of pipping them to the title.

All season it has been their batting which has sustained Warwickshire's Championship challenge and yesterday that was underlined in emphatic fashion by a cussed, unbroken eighth-wicket stand which dragged them back from the brink of defeat against the only side with any realistic chance of pipping them to the title.

Sussex were frozen out by Tony Frost, who is rapidly becoming their nemesis, having scored a hundred at Horsham earlier this season and a dogged 48 in the first innings.

He and Heath Streak's determination assured Warwickshire of the draw - their ninth of this campaign - and leaves them unbeaten thus far and looking for just a further 20 points from their remaining two matches to guarantee them the Championship.

When Frost and Streak joined forces Warwickshire were still four runs away from making Sussex bat again, tea was looming, and, more worryingly, so was defeat, but by the end they had been together for 28 tense overs spread across two anxious hours, having added 73 runs and frustrated the fire out of Sussex.

The pair of them were fearless against the wiles of Pakistani leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, the pace and accuracy of James Kirtley and the perils of Mohammad Akram.

Earlier, caution had been the priority after they set out 136 runs adrift on the first innings after Sussex's overnight declaration, on a pitch that was deadly slow and showing some variable bounce.

Kirtley had quickly claimed the 500th wicket of his First Class career when his yorker knocked back Mark Wagh's leg stump. Shortly after that Warwickshire found themselves in even worse trouble when Akram accounted for Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott in the space of three telling balls.

There then followed two-and-a-quarter hours of obduracy from captain Nick Knight and his predecessor Michael Powell, before the former was bowled attempting to cut Mushtaq, just after lunch. When Powell became Akram's third victim the innings was creaking and the home fans were groaning.

The departure of the last two recognised batsmen, Jim Troughton and Dougie Brown, brought the two heroes together and they showed their betters how to stick around to turn a crisis into a dramatic draw.

The draw leaves Sussex 47 points behind Warwickshire and with the possibility, if they win all three of their remaining games with a maximum points haul of 221, of passing Warwickshire if they should fail to get the 20 points they need. So Warwickshire have the matches at Worcester next week and at Northampton a fortnight later in which to gather the necessary and lift their first title, unless Sussex stumble in the round of matches between, when Warwickshire have to cool their heels. But the destiny of the Championship now looks a foregone conclusion, 10 seasons after they last took the title, Warwickshire have the prize in sight.

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