County Championship (day 4 of 4) at Edgbaston: Warwickshire 400-8 dec (R Clarke 110 no, J O Troughton 81 I R Bell 57, M S Panesar 4-95) v Sussex 191 (J S Patel 5-77). Warwickshire (11pts) drew with Sussex (5pts)
Rikki Clarke scored a run-a-ball century as Warwickshire charged to the top of the County Championship by taking maximum bonus points from their rain-ravaged draw with Sussex at Edgbaston.
Clarke’s unbeaten 110, coupled with a season’s-best 81 from a resurgent Jim Troughton, took the title contenders to a declaration at 400 for eight.
Yet even they must have been mildly surprised by the way Sussex collapsed for 191 in less than half a day with New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel taking five for 77.
Six batsmen got into the 20s but no-one did better than Luke Wright’s 36 before he sliced Patel to deep point.
Clarke was again at the forefront for Warwickshire with three for 19 and Patel preyed on Sussex’s vulnerability in an unchanged spell of 18.1 overs, which included the wicket of Matt Prior when the England wicketkeeper clipped to mid-on.
All this added up to a near-perfect day for the barnstorming home side. Five points for batting, three for bowling and three for a draw put them one ahead of overnight leaders Nottinghamshire with a game in hand.
Warwickshire’s batsmen could not have done more in making up for lost time after two full days had fallen to the weather.
Resuming at 175 for three, they added 225 in a five-runs-an-over gallop peaking with an eighth-wicket partnership of 96 in 61 balls by Clarke and Keith Barker.
The morning session held no hint of the fireworks to come as Troughton quietly went about the task of rebuilding his form and confidence.
Having needed ten innings to muster 50 championship runs, the Bears captain got his next 50 in one go, reaching a welcome milestone with a boundary off Jimmy Anyon in the third over of the day.
Monty Panesar (four for 95) managed to interrupt Warwickshire’s progress with wickets in successive balls – Darren Maddy, lbw for 21, and Tim Ambrose taken at first slip.
Warwickshire, however, are not easily knocked off course. Clarke coming in at number seven is a formidable proposition and again he saw his side through to their objective in another destructive innings.
Although Troughton was caught at slip, slashing at a ball from Anyon, Clarke ploughed on, first with Chris Woakes (12) and then with Barker’s 34 from 31 balls until he was well caught by Steve Magoffin at long leg.
Clarke should have gone on 71 when dropped by substitute Michael Rippon at long-on off Chris Nash but the all-rounder went on to plunder 15 fours and two sixes.
It was then down to Patel to raise 400 with four balls to spare before the cut-off for bonus points.