Sussex 420-5 v Nottinghamshire: Yardy ensures Sussex take maximum haul

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The Independent Online

Nerves had started to fray a little in Sussex's push for the finish line but the title favourites found relief here yesterday as the outgoing County Champions failed to deliver the blows Lancashire were hoping desperately they would inflict on their rivals' ambitions.

Eight points ahead of Lancashire at the start of the final round of matches, Sussex will be assured of collecting the £100,000 first prize if they win here, and may do so with a draw if Lancashire drop a couple of points at the Rose Bowl, which is why the sight of 400 on the scoreboard will have felt especially satisfying to their captain, Chris Adams, as the shadows lengthened here yesterday.

It meant maximum batting points, a return they had certainly not banked on achieving against a recently resurgent Nottinghamshire, even after deciding to bat first on a slow but essentially true pitch. Indeed, in the morning session, with the ball swinging under heavy cloud cover - so heavy that play was quickly interrupted by bad light - they might have anticipated a struggle.

Certainly they would have done after Carl Hopkinson threw away his wicket in the third over, taking a quite unnecessary chance against the fleet-footed Samit Patel at cover, who ran him out by a foot.

Perhaps the break was just what was needed. In any event, by the time the next wicket fell there were a reassuring 149 runs on the board and the home attack, with the exception of the admirably consistent but yesterday luckless Ryan Sidebottom, were beginning to look as if the end of the season could not come soon enough.

Michael Yardy, whose secondment to the England one-day side had meant missing two Championship games, returned with a timely 119, his third century of the season, surviving a chance to second slip on 38 before going on to hit 18 fours. The miss cost Stephen Fleming, the unfortunate fielder, a trip to hospital and four stitches in a gashed finger.

As Charlie Shreck and Paul Franks in particular served up some easy ammunition, there might have been a couple more Sussex centurions. But Richard Montgomerie edged Andy Harris to first slip on 82 and Murray Goodwin, agonisingly, fell to Shreck off the last ball of the day on 99. Adams hit 50 in boundaries in his 72 before clipping to square leg.

The Lancashire manager Mike Watkinson admitted his players had watched every televised ball at Trent Bridge. "All we can do is get as many runs as possible and play our part in getting the points we need," he said.