Sussex held together by Cottey's century

Leicestershire 320 Sussex 340-5
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The Independent Online

Things did not go quite according to plan for title-chasing Sussex, who had hoped to bat only once against a side heading for a relegation scrap.

They still might. But while Tony Cottey continued a fine run of form with his third century in four innings, collectively his team underachieved and may need the little man from Swansea to score almost as many today if they are to construct a match-winning lead.

A tendency for the odd ball to shoot along the ground was the only criticism of an otherwise benign track. However, in the searing heat that preceded an overcast end to the day, Sussex made harder work of overtaking Leicestershire's first-innings 320 than had been anticipated.

Sussex had no need to rush but their progress was pedestrian in the extreme, providing the least desirable backdrop to such a stifling day, to which a three-and-a-half-hour fifty from Richard Montgomerie was hardly an antidote.

Cottey is in tremendous form, having come into this match on the back of scores of 188 against Warwickshire and 107 and 98 against Essex, which means his last four innings have so far yielded 530 runs. But such was his attention to careful application it was some time before he played a shot to quicken the pulse.

None the less he held Sussex together after a mid-innings wobble threatened to put Leicestershire in control and add value to Phillip DeFreitas's century of the previous day.

It was DeFreitas' bowling which rattled Sussex soon after lunch. After a second-wicket stand of 103 with Cottey, Montgomerie was at last beaten by the Leicestershire captain and there was a bonus two balls later when Chris Adams was leg before without scoring. Within another hour, Sussex were five down and still 105 runs behind.

Charlie Dagnall's dismissal of Tim Ambrose was soon followed by that of Robin Martin-Jenkins. But Cottey's concent- ration never wavered, even when the fringes of a storm twice interrupted play.

Having completed a 177-ball hundred containing 14 fours and a six, he took fresh guard against a wilting attack and after six hours at the crease was unbeaten on 137 at the close, ably supported by Matthew Prior, who has made 68, in an unbroken partnership of 125 that put Sussex 20 runs in front.