Gary Keedy was well on the way towards overtaking Alan Richardson of Warwickshire as the No 11 of the week when he found he could no longer rely on his partner. He had held on, with the seemingly invincible Stuart Law, for 191 minutes, from the night before up to the stroke of lunch, their partnership of 145 needing two more runs to become Lancashire's best last-wicket stand on this ground.
Law's 346-ball 218, perhaps the most disciplined big innings seen here – no chances, no frills – suddenly and surprisingly ended when, as this laconic Queenslander was aiming for his 30th four, he lifted Mark Davis and was gently captured at long on. Keedy's hopes of passing Richardson's 258-minute defiance at Edgbaston had been torpedoed.
Sussex, having driven their hosts to the brink of a follow-on thus found their lead a mere 57 and a match that seemed certain to end in their favour was back in the balance.
Captain Chris Adams, like England's captain yesterday, must have wished for another spinner. This pitch is wearing and giving turn, albeit slowly, at both ends. Last evening there was also a suggestion of variable bounce making Lancashire's Keedy and Chris Schofield a dangerous combination. Should Lancashire win this fascinating match their victory would represent one of the great recoveries.
When Sussex batted again Warren Hegg gave his three seamers only 20 overs – during which Murray Goodwin was trapped by Peter Martin – before bringing on Keedy from the Stretford End. Keedy immediately worried Sussex and won the prize wicket of Adams when he made one lift as Adams went back to cut. Richard Montgomerie and Tony Cottey were careful and alert for another 10 overs before leg-spinner Schofield (two years ago an England-contracted player) appeared. All day the bowlers had to contend with a blustering, wayward, westerly wind, a tricky trial for the slow men.
Montgomerie (42) survived when David Byas at slip could not quite hold the sharpest chance, off Schofield, but when Cottey offered a similar opportunity, in Schofield's next over, Byas made it a formality. Mike Yardy then dug in so successfully with Montgomerie that Hegg, after 16 overs, turned back to seam from one end. Keedy persisted, however, to win a verdict against Yardy.
There is the prospect of an absorbing finish today but the sky is hinting of rain.
* Persistent rain allowed only 17 balls to be bowled on the third day of the game between Glamorgan and Durham at Cardiff yesterday. That was enough time for the Welsh side to end Durham's second innings and they have been set a target of 201 for victory.
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