Sussex 277 & 259 Notts 251 & 114-5: Dropped catches leave Read contemplating lost cause

Given that the ball swings so readily here, you might have thought that no set of slip fielders would be sharper than Nottinghamshire's. Yet after dropping two on Wednesday evening, they shelled another three yesterday and in doing so probably handed the match to Sussex.

With Matt Prior continuing his prolific run – 64 to go with his first-innings 131 – the defending champions totalled 259 for a lead of 285. In case Chris Read, the Nottinghamshire captain, cannot bring himself to do the maths – and taking into account a sixth drop at short leg – Sussex should have scored 141 runs fewer.

Looking dispirited, the home side then lost their first three wickets for 25 and were five down and still 171 behind at the close. Unless Read can do something heroic with the bat, or the showers forecast for today are frequent and torrential, Sussex will win.

It was a bad day for Will Jefferson, who put down Carl Hopkinson on nought on Wednesday, plus Prior on 44 and Mushtaq Ahmed on eight yesterday. The poor chap can barely score a run either. Caught behind down the leg side last night, the former Essex player has 59 runs from nine Championship innings so far.

But he cannot take all the blame. Samit Patel's missing of Michael Yardy cost 38 runs, Graeme Swann's of Luke Wright another 40. And Prior would have gone for 34 had Matthew Wood taken the one at short leg.

Nottinghamshire had been on top in the first hour yesterday. Yardy and Murray Goodwin, who had put on 52, were removed in the space of four deliveries and when Chris Adams was leg before, Sussex were 114 for 5. Yet Wright – his let-off apart – and Prior batted superbly to put on 93 for the sixth wicket.

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