Nottinghamshire’s LV= County Championship match against Sussex ended in a draw at Trent Bridge, after a final day which produced only five wickets for the home side.
On a benign surface Sussex went on to overturn their deficit of 349 and were on 385-5 when the two captains decided to shake hands at around 5.15pm.
Chris Nash made 162 for the visitors with his opening partner, Ed Joyce, making 98, whilst Samit Patel picked up a couple of the wickets to fall, with one going to Andy Carter, Harry Gurney and, surprisingly, Riki Wessels.
“I only had about three balls notice before I came on,” said Wessels after his first overs for Nottinghamshire.
“I was joking when I told Ready that I was ready for a bowl and he said, “OK off you go!”
“I do bowl a bit in the nets and usually get slogged away but it came out quite nicely.”
Mick Newell said it was always an option to try something different. “Riki bowls ever so occasionally in the nets but he genuinely spins the ball. I’d said to Ready beforehand that we may need to do something different – do something funky - as we weren’t going to get 10 wickets by normal methods, as we had in the first innings, so I was pleased to see us try things to see if we could make something happen.”
The director of cricket was delighted that Warwickshire’s match with Surrey had also ended in a draw. “If we’d drawn and they’d have won it would have been a hammer blow to our chances of winning the championship. They have a game in hand, which they’ll play this week and obviously we have to hope they don’t win.”
Resuming from their overnight position of 146-0 Sussex maintained the equilibrium with a morning of controlled stroke-play on a surface that offered nothing to the bowlers.
Nash sped to his century (216 mins 187 balls 16x4) as the total reached 185. He monopolised the scoring and the strike but his partner moved into the nineties as Notts unleashed their surprise weapon.
Riki Wessels, with only two first class wickets to his name and both taken in Zimbabwe, came on to bowl some unexpected twirly-wirly deliveries from the Radcliffe Road Stand.
His initial seven overs cost 24 runs but he did pose a threat and in the middle of his spell Samit Patel struck at the other end. The wicket, at 12.15pm, was the first to fall since 4.29pm on Saturday and the first in 112.3 overs.
Michael Lumb, who was the previous man to get out, pulled off the astonishing piece of action to conjure up the breakthrough.
Joyce, two short of his century, clipped Patel firmly away looking for his century but would have gasped in disbelief as Lumb dived away to his left at midwicket to take an exceptional one-handed diving catch.
A brief stoppage for light rain preceded the taking of the second new ball but neither Ben Phillips nor Harry Gurney could strike again with lunch taken at 254-1.
Notts needed to totally dominate the afternoon session if they were to have any chance of pressing for the win but only had one wicket to show for their efforts and that, belatedly, came when the match had all but been saved.
After a stand of 98 with Luke Wells, Nash hoisted Carter away on the legside and James Taylor took a well-judged catch.
In the final over before tea Wells edged Gurney down to the third man fence to take his side to 350 and an overall lead in the match.
Wessels was given another spell after tea and, to great rejoicing, picked up a wicket. Luke Wells (59) drilled the ball back to him for a caught and bowled, although the batsman had to be sent on his way by umpire Gough after appearing to believe it was a bump ball.
That success was quickly followed by another. Michael Yardy (3), avoided a pair after his first innings’ woes, but hoisted Gurney high to Adams at mid on.
Patel picked up his second wicket of the day and 150th of his first class career when Murray Goodwin (31) was bowled, dancing down towards the spinner.
With fielders all around the bat Luke Wright and Ben Brown played out the remainder of the contest, with the sides settling for an early finish with eleven overs remaining unbowled.
Nottinghamshire’s fourth straight draw leaves them undefeated in Division One after eleven matches and eleven points they collected leaves them level on points with Warwickshire at the top of the table, although the Edgbaston side have a game in hand.