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HIGHLIGHTS & REPORT: Sussex secure third spot

26-Sep-2014

Sussex clinched third place in LV=County Championship Division One for the second successive year after a stalemate with Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

The hosts concluded on 85 for one, as events petered out into an insipid draw to bring the season to a close.

Both sets of players formed a tunnel for umpires Peter Willey and George Sharp on the morning of what could be their last day on the first-class list. While Willey had the more prominent career culminating in 26 Tests for England, Sharp served as a wicketkeeper between 1970 and 1985 before becoming an umpire.

Once play got under way, there was a sedate period as Sussex ensured there would be no last-day drama to affect their chances.

Resuming on 209 for three, they added just 29 runs in the opening hour, while Northamptonshire offered little penetration.

But Luke Wells (pictured) took that time to score the remaining nine runs for his 255-ball century, after picking up on 91 not out, with a four off Rob Keogh.

After Michael Yardy was stumped off Keogh for Northamptonshire's first breakthrough, it was Muhammad Azhar Ullah who would enjoy the day as much as Wells, as he had Ben Brown caught behind for 26.

As the intensity of the game faded and the inevitability of the draw increased, both sides could be forgiven for losing interest but Azhar Ullah maintained his focus to remove Ashar Zaidi lbw for his fifth wicket of the innings.

It was the first time the paceman had achieved the feat for Northants and he kissed the turf in response. One ball later, Azhar Ullah was celebrating again when Steve Magoffin edged behind for Adam Rossington's third catch.

It did not stop Wells reaching his 150 with an impressive six over long-on from Olly Stone and he was last man out skying Azhar Ullah to the same position as his maximum for 162.

Sussex were all out for 343 by mid-afternoon and their prize money was safe. Azhar Ullah finished with 7-76 and match figures of 10-158 - only the second time in his career he has pulled off the feat.

Northamptonshire's target of 418 in a minimum of 44 overs to register their first win of the year was a target of academic value and they lost opener James Kettleborough for 33, before finishing on 85 for one.

Their nine points accrued from the game leaves them on 79 for the season, the lowest achieved by a county in Division One.

They will return to Division Two after one year, without James Middlebrook and Andrew Hall who follow the retired David Sales in the exit lounge of Wantage Road.

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