Sussex settle for draw as Durham bat through final day

Openers Sean Dickson and Alex Lees compiled the fourth highest partnership in Durham’s history as their LV= County Championship match against Sussex at Hove predictably petered out to a draw.

They put on 313 for the first wicket, with Dickson making 186 – his highest score for Durham  – and Lees 105 before both fell in the same over from leg-spinner Mason Crane.

By then they had knocked off all but two runs of their first-innings deficit of 315 – and when the players shook hands at 4.50pm Durham were 364 for three and leading by 49.

Sussex take 15 points, Durham 10.

It was an outstanding effort by the Durham pair whose partnership was also the county’s highest for any wicket against Sussex.

Lees’ highest score when he made his England debut against West Indies in March was a modest 31, but the left-hander faced 450 balls in that series and once again showed his powers of concentration here.

The pair did a lot of the hard work needed to secure the draw by getting through 51 overs on the third day unscathed.

The only chance either offered before they were parted came midway through the morning session when Lees was on 67 and mistimed a pull off Henry Crocombe, only for Crane to spill a regulation catch on the fine leg boundary.

Ali Orr got his hand to the ball but couldn’t cling on to a very difficult chance at short leg when Lees was on 97.

Shortly afterwards he reached his 19th first-class century, made in three minutes shy of five hours, to add to the unbeaten 182 he scored against Glamorgan earlier in the season.

Sussex employed five bowlers in the pre-lunch session but a slow pitch offering minimal lateral movement and only slow turn gave them little encouragement even when the new ball was taken immediately it became available.

Lees hit a six and ten fours and faced 262 balls and it was a surprise when he smashed a full toss from Crane straight to deep mid-wicket.

If that wicket owed a bit to good fortune, Crane was delighted when wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan held a catch at the second attempt after Dickson got a thin under-edge cutting later in the same over.

Dickson’s 186 included a six and 20 fours and was his second hundred of the season.

Keegan Petersen and Scott Borthwick took their side past the first target to make Sussex bat again before persistent drizzle forced the teams off shortly before 3pm.

They returned an hour later and Durham lost a third wicket when Borthwick pushed forward to Delray Rawlins’ left-arm spin and was athletically caught at slip by Rizwan.

Rizwan had, at this point, handed over wicket-keeping duties to Ali Orr and bowled a couple of overs of medium pace before the game ended.

Sussex coach Ian Salisbury said: “I think we have taken a step in the right direction this week. A couple of times in the last 18 months, we’ve bowled sides out on the first day, which on this wicket was an amazing effort, and then not backed it up in our first innings with the bat.

“So it was pleasing to put ourselves in with a chance of winning the game. Today we bowled much better than yesterday. But it was a really good wicket and credit to Lees and Dickson, they batted very well.

“Chet Pujara has been amazing – and not just with the runs he is scoring. The other batters revel in the chance to bat with him and the way he prepares is an example to all the other players too.”

Durham opener Alex Lees, who made 105, said: “It turned into a bit of a dull draw. As a unit we didn’t bat very well in the first innings on what was a pretty good batting wicket.

“When Sean (Dickson) and I went out in the second innings we just batted normally to be honest. Sean played very fluently and we capitalised on a little bit of loose bowling.

“Whenever you get runs you are happy although I wasn’t as happy this time around as when I got 182 against Glamorgan with how I actually felt at the crease but that’s a good sign for me in terms of my mental application.

“When you don’t always feel right and can still score runs that’s pleasing. I need to get re-selected first and foremost (for the New Zealand Test series) and to be truthful I’m just trying to get my head down in the next three first-class games.

“Having had a taste of Test cricket I want to play as much as I can but my only thoughts are short-term and getting runs for Durham.”

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