Warwickshire and Sussex shared one of just two draws of the round – Essex and Yorkshire’s abandoned fixture was the other – with rain and a relative batting paradise – the sides made the two top team scores of the round between them – combining to ensure the honours were shared, though both sides flirted with danger at points during the match.
After the first day was washed out, only something remarkable could have ensured a result. Warwickshire agonisingly missed out on a third batting bonus point in their first innings, but their 299 still virtually secured their safety. They looked set for much less when Ian Bell, who made a typically classy 70 but was the only member of the top six to pass 15, fell to the South African combination of Stiaan van Zyl and David Wiese to leave the Bears 147-6. Tim Ambrose struck 81 to drag his side to the brink of 300, combining usefully with Keith Barker (25) and last man Chris Wright (27).
Warwickshire’s total seemed potentially match-winning when young quick bowler Olly Stone claimed the first six wickets to fall, reducing Sussex to 194/6 by the end of day three, still six runs short of the adjusted follow-on mark. Bowling with pace and hostility – qualities that have seen him earmarked for an international future – Stone finished with scarcely believable figures of 8-80.
He deserved to finish on the winning side. That he didn’t was down to a superb eighth-wicket partnership of 154 between Sussex’s new captain Ben Brown and No.9 David Wiese, who followed first innings’ figures of 4-56 with the first Championship hundred of the year, a blistering 105-ball 106 which contained 14 fours and three sixes. Brown too deserved a ton but fell nine runs short.
Sussex were eventually dismissed for 374, earning a lead of 75, and giving them an outside sniff of forcing a result, if they could skittle their opponents and knock of the excess. But only three Warwickshire wickets fell – two to overseas paceman Ishant Sharma – as the game petered out to a stalemate. Dominic Sibley tuned up with an unbeaten 42. Sussex’s next game comes against Leicestershire, who are yet to begin their campaign, while Warwickshire will take on Northants, who were beaten comprehensively by Middlesex in their opening game.