Resolute under intense scoreboard pressure, Warwickshire lost only two wickets all day in fronting up to the highest Division One score in this season’s LV= County Championship.
Whereas Sussex’s mammoth 601 for six included four century-makers, the home side were able to stay in the game with an undefeated 103 by Laurie Evans, his first hundred in two years, and three individual half-centuries: 68 by Jonathan Trott, 65 by night-watchman Chris Wright and later in the day 65 not out from Tim Ambrose.
An enterprising and unbroken partnership of 160 by Evans and Ambrose eased the total up to 367 for five, still 85 short of the 452 needed to avoid the follow-on but now close enoughto believe that a commendable draw is within touching distance.
As well as they stuck to their task, Sussex are certainly not where they would have wanted to be at this stage. Having given themselves two-and-a-bit days to bowl out Warwickshire twice, they are way short of their objective going into the last three sessions.
For this they can blame a featherbed pitch and the level of application shown by a succession of batsmen.
Having either of the absent pace bowlers, Ajmal Shahzad or Chris Jordan, may have given Ed Joyce a stronger hand, although not necessarily so on this dead surface.
The captain rotated six bowlers and no one could say he lacked imagination when posting a ring of four fielders at short mid-wicket, the first time for the largely untroubled Wright and later for Ambrose.
Yet no matter what was tried, Warwickshire batted on with defiance and some symmetry in advancing the total: 62 for three overnight, 162 for three at lunch and 262 for five at tea. Only in the final session did Evans and Ambrose beef up their progress, comfortably raising the scoring rate above three runs an over for the first time.
From the outset the situation was made for Trott, an opportunity to bat for as long as he liked against opponents who have frequently suffered at his hands. His first Warwickshire hundred, in 2003, was against Sussex and this was his 11th time beyond 50 in 30 championship innings in this fixture.
That he didn’t go on to a seventh century was a surprise, given how determined he was in getting to 50 with only three boundaries. However, in the second over after lunch, Matt Hebden found a chink, a good ball beating a defensive stroke and hitting top of off stump.
The partnership with Wright not only produced 114 but was also statement that Warwickshire were ready for the long haul. In extending his role to almost three-and-a-half hours, Wright completed his second fifty of the season and ninth of his career.
When he popped up a return catch to Ashar Zaidi, it was not the breakthrough that Sussex needed. Evans and Ambrose made sure of that and did it with some style, each hitting eight fours in their 50s, Ambrose’s the quickest of the day in 86 balls.
Evans pressed on again in the final hour, reaching his century with a straight drive off Peter Burgoyne for his 15th boundary from 197 balls.
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