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.

News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Adam Lallana, Juan Cala, Andy Carroll and Cameron Jerome
sportThe latest news and scores
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
The North Korean TV advert for Taedonggang beer, that became a YouTube hit
food + drinkAnd what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit