Sussex turn a bang to a whimper

Sussex 429 and 297-5dec Surrey 355 and 114-1 Match drawn

This top-of-the-table clash, which began with a bang as Sussex stunned the First Division leaders in the first two days with bat and ball, finished with barely a whimper.

This top-of-the-table clash, which began with a bang as Sussex stunned the First Division leaders in the first two days with bat and ball, finished with barely a whimper.

Sussex had had a genuine opportunity to wrest the Championship lead from Surrey's weakening grasp, but they bottled it. Draws do not win titles.

No matter that Murray Goodwin had suffered a dislocated finger on his right hand which handicapped his batting yesterday, or that they lost 37 overs to bad light (though in the opinion of many, play could have continued for a while longer on Friday before the Sussex batsmen accepted the offer and scuttled off, not to be seen again that evening). There was ample opportunity for Sussex to set up a tempting target.

As it was, Sussex batted deep into the afternoon before declaring at tea, leaving Surrey to score 377 runs off a minimum of 36 overs. Improbable even by Surrey's bold and exhilarating standards.

The home supporters were unhappy, judging by the slow handclaps and ironic cheers that punctuated a slow afternoon and even slower accretion of the Sussex cushion.

True, the Surrey leg-spinner Ian Salisbury did not help by bowling around the wicket, and Jimmy Ormond, who took four first-innings wickets, did not get a bowl. The only conclusion to be drawn was that it was fear of losing, possibly provoked by Surrey's first-innings recovery thanks to a very waggy tail, which incidentally has earned Surrey 10 of the 18 batting bonus points they have gleaned from their last four matches. But surely, to borrow a phrase, "'tis better to have tried and lost than not to have tried at all"? If you want to be regarded as the cream of the crop you have to beat the best, not draw with them. You have to take risks to pull off the improbable.

So for all that Sussex might pat themselves on the collective back and say they had competed with Surrey, even got the better of the First Division leaders for the bulk of this match, ultimately the draw leaves them four points adrift, whereas victory would have seen them open up a 10-point lead, while defeat when going for it would have been an honourable one.

And the argument that victory was unlikely does not hold water when you are armed with the most potent wicket-taker in the country, Mushtaq Ahmed. His leg-spin has brought him 71 Championship wickets in his 10-and-a-bit matches to date, which suggests that a win was not beyond the realms of possibility.

Come the big reckoning at the end of the season, this game could prove to be the one where Sussex's title aspirations went out the window, all for a lack of adventure.

At least Sussex got something right, awarding caps to their two excellent wicketkeepers, Tim Ambrose and Matthew Prior, the presentation being made when the pair came off at the declaration, each having reached a half- century in their unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 74.

Ambrose had earlier partnered Robin Martin-Jenkins to the tune of 120 runs off 31 overs, although the only evidence of a sense of urgency came from Prior, who lofted Salisbury for two sixes in his 49-ball fifty. Ambrose's 76 was compiled from a more conservative 162 balls.

Surrey openers Ian Ward and Jon Batty then reduced the target by 82 before Mark Davis dismissed the left-handed Ward for a sedate 33 before the game fizzled out.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on