Skipper Wakely takes the positives as Northants are denied victory chance by rain

Alex Wakely

Alex Wakely

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Northants skipper Alex Wakely took the positives from his side’s performance despite the frsutration of being denied the chance of claiming a first win of the season by rain at Arundel.

Sussex opener Ed Joyce became the leading run-scorer in the second division of the Specsavers County Championship as he helped his side to the draw against the County.

Joyce made 60 in the second innings as Sussex scored 145 for two on a fourth day restricted to just 35 overs by torrential downpours.

Joyce’s seventh score of over 50 this season took his aggregate to 732 runs while fellow opener Chris Nash isn’t far behind on 651 after making 53, his second half-century of the match.

The form of those two were the main consolations for Sussex, who had conceded a first innings deficit of 300 against a Northants side looking for their first Championship win of the campaign.

“We’ve played bit part cricket in the Championship so far this season and this is probably the first game where we have strung things together,” said Wakely.

“Our bowlers made the most of good conditions on the first day and we backed it up with the bat and got ourselves a really good platform to win the game.

“So it’s a shame we lost so much time to rain, especially today.

“We’ve been saved by the rain a few times this season and this is probably the first game when it’s been against us, but we’ve got a lot of guys in form now and when we get back to playing in the Championship in a couple of weeks hopefully we can give it a really good go.”

Joyce and Nash gave Sussex a platform in theor battle to avoid defeat by posting 70 without loss overnight and they extended their stand to 110 from 38 overs before Nash was foxed by a ball from off-spinner Richard Keogh which turned sharply to hit middle and leg stump for 53 (119 balls, 7 fours).

Just 20 overs were possible before lunch and mopping-up operations after another downpour delayed the resumption until 3.15pm. Northants had largely employed spin until then to get their run-rate down and avoid a points deduction but when they returned seamer Ben Sanderson soon worked up an impressive head of steam.

He was rewarded for an excellent spell with the wicket of Joyce for 60, although the batsman can consider himself a bit unlucky to be lbw to a ball which kept a touch low. He faced 133 balls and six fours.

Northants employed ultra-attacking fields in search of another breakthrough with Sanderson at one stage bowling to Harry Finch with five slips and a gully in place.

He made the batsman play and miss several times while Finch picked up a fortunate boundary when he ducked into a short ball from Richard Gleeson which flew off his helmet and over the slip cordon to the third man rope.

When rain returned at 4pm he was on nine and left-hander Luke Wells on 16.

Umpires Ben Debenham and Steve O’Shaughnessy abandoned the game as a draw at 4.45pm with Sussex, who are still unbeaten after seven games, taking 6 points and Northants 13.

Northants now turn their attention to Sunday’s NatWest Blast T20 fixture against Leicestershire Foxes at the County Ground (start 2.30pm).