Late wickets for Stuart Meaker and Jack Carson have set up an intriguing final day in the LV= Insurance County Championship Group 3 match between Sussex and Lancashire at The 1st CENTRAL County Ground.
Despite conceding a first innings' deficit of 98, Lancashire will consider themselves favourites having dismissed Sussex for 154 in their third innings and then reached 124 for 2 in pursuit of 253 for victory. Meaker's dismissal of the destructive Alex Davies and Carson's of Luke Wells have ensured the home side are very much in the game, however.
Davies and Jennings got Lancashire's chase off to a flying start with a stand of 102 in 20 overs. The diminuitive Davies led the way with a 59-ball 73, with ten fours and a pulled six over square leg off Henry Crocombe before he was bowled by Stuart Meaker. And Jack Carson gave his side a lifeline with the late wicket of former Sussex player Luke Wells, who was lbw padding up. The visitors will need another 129 for victory.
Lancashire started the third day on 193 for 6,135 runs behind, and lost their last four wickets for 37 runs in the space of 45 minutes. Sussex broke through in the third over of the morning when Josh Bohannon, who had just on-driven Henry Crocombe for a fine four, was lbw to a Jamie Atkins delivery that moved into him.
Lancashire had added just ten more when they lost their second wicket of the session when Tom Bailey had his leg stump plucked out by a well pitched-up delivery from Crocombe for three to make it 215 for 8. Meaker brought the curtain down on the Lancashire innings with two wickets in successive overs. First, he pinned Danny Lamb for 27 and then he bowled a short, lifting delivery to Matt Parkinson who gloved it to the keeper.
Photo: Luke Adams
Lancashire were all for 230 in 98.2 overs. Meaker finished with figures of 3 for 22, his best return for Sussex. But the morning continued to belong to the bowlers and by lunch Lancashire had muscled themselves back in the game by reducing Sussex to 37 for three.
Aaron Thomason, perhaps unsettled by a nasty, rearing ball from Lamb two balls earlier, was caught at first slip by Wells. Without addition Sussex lost the in-form Tom Haines, lbw to Bailey for 19. And Bailey struck again in his next over with the key wicket of Stiaan van Zyl, caught at second slip by Liam Livingstone. The only meaningful resistance came from Delray Rawlins, who made 45, with five fours, almost one third of the Sussex total.
Photo: Luke Adams
Looking ahead to the final day, Meaker said, “We’ve got nothing to lose in the morning and we’ll give it everything. We’re up against it, looking at the scoreboard, but we’ve gone toe to toe and been ahead in this match against a good side. Wickets have tended to fall in the first session in this match.
"Lancashire have some momentum because Alex Davies chanced his arm and it came off. But that late wicket has given us an opportunity. My role has changed now but I’m still quick and I have role to play along side some talented young bowlers.”
After his attacking innings gave Lancashire a good start to their chase, Davies said, "I sensed the opportunity to counter attack and put some pressure back on them. If we had started slowly, and gone to, say, 40 for two, we would have been under the pump.
“I thought that my way was the best way to go with cracks on the pitch. I had a chat with Keats [Keaton Jennings] and we decided that he would play his normal innings and I would play some shots and it came off.”
Watch highlights of day three here: