Sussex 339 & 243-3, Notts 558-7 dec (Match drawn): Yardy resistance undoes Notts' hopes of victory

The Sussex member folded his arms and said, to no one in particular: "You've got to be a real cricket lover to put up with this." He was watching Sussex bat all day to grind out a draw against a weakened Nottinghamshire attack. But real cricket lovers understood that the result was more significant as the performance.

Division One of the County Championship is as close this year as it has ever been, with at least six potential champions vying for top spot with four weeks to go. At 4.50pm yesterday Nottinghamshire, having got four points for the draw against Sussex, moved three points ahead of Somerset at the top. That position could have proved short-lived.

At Scarborough, Kent fought back relentlessly against Yorkshire. Having started the day only 43 runs ahead with five wickets standing, they batted on boldly to reach 433, setting Yorkshire 208 to win. Kent managed to take nine Yorkshire wickets for 179; had they got that last wicket they would have moved top of the table by a single point. Now they lie third.

In fact, the favourites for the title are neither Nottinghamshire nor Kent. Both Somerset and Durham, neither of whom have ever won the championship, have a game in hand of their rivals. Those two teams play each other at Taunton on 9 September.

Asked about Sussex's prospects, Mark Robinson, their coach, said: "Yes, we could still go down, but we could also win it." Having watched his team salvage a draw on a rare hot day at Hove, he was statistically correct. Sussex have 133 points and must now play Durham at the Riverside and Yorkshire at home and away. Three wins and they would be title contenders, but don't bet on it.

Durham have impressed Robinson this season but they have to play, and presumably beat, Somerset and Kent if they are to win. Two of Durham's games are at the Riverside, on a square that Kent's captain, Robert Key, described as "an absolute disgrace" when Kent lost there early on the third day.

The weather will probably be no less significant than the cricket. Rain dealt a cruel blow to Surrey yesterday, when their match against Lancashire at Blackpool was abandoned without a ball being bowled. Surrey are bottom of the table with 110 points and, with games to come against Kent and Nottinghamshire, their chances of survival have become minimal. The number of teams that could accompany them down to Division Two are almost as numerous as the potential title winners, but more rain in Lancashire will put the red-rose county in peril.

After the drawn game against Sussex, Nottinghamshire must feel their chances slipping away. To get maximum points they had to dismiss Sussex for less than 219 yesterday but they only managed to take three wickets. The pitch was utterly placid – a great disappointment to Sussex's supporters – and Nottinghamshire were without Samit Patel and Graeme Swann.

As the end approached, Nottinghamshire's captain, Chris Read, surrendered the keeper's gloves to Bilal Shafayat and bowled the last over himself. By that time Murray Goodwin had scored his fifth hundred of the summer, a fine innings which would have entertained even jaded cricket lovers. But the Sussex hero was Michael Yardy.

He has had a disappointing season but he occupied the crease for all but the last few overs of the innings yesterday. Apart from an uncharacteristic episode when he dispatched Darren Pattinson to the boundary five times in two overs, Yardy was the soul of discretion. His first hundred of the season seemed to be only a matter of time when he gave a low return catch to Robert Ferley, seven runs short of his goal.

Yardy had batted three minutes short of five hours. Goodwin's hundred took only seven minutes over three hours. Sussex have had a poor season with the bat, and during this game Mushtaq Ahmed announced that he is no longer fit enough to play first-class cricket. Robinson described Mushy as Sussex's "get out of jail card". Without him, the current champions are improbable contenders.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments