Delray Rawlins could not prevent Sussex sliding to a third straight County Championship defeat as they went down by an innings at Old Trafford - leaving them with hard graft ahead if they're to get back into the division two promotion race.
Rawlins hit his maiden first-class century and shared an exhilarating sixth-wicket partnership of 128 with David Wiese during an entertaining afternoon session at Emirates Old Trafford but he could not prevent Sussex losing their Division Two match against Lancashire by an innings and 51 runs seven balls into the evening session on the third day at Emirates Old Trafford.
Lancashire gain 23 points for their victory and return to the top of the table but Sussex’s third successive defeat puts a severe dent in their hopes of winning promotion this season. Matt Parkinson took four wickets in Sussex’s second innings to finish with career-best match figures of ten for 165.
Needing 367 to make the home side bat again, the visitors were bowled out for 316 with Graham Onions taking the ninth wicket when he had Abi Sakande caught behind by Dane Vilas, and Parkinson ending the match when he trapped Mir Hamza leg before for nought.
But the highlight of Monday’s cricket was undoubtedly the batting of Rawlins, who hit 12 fours and three sixes, reaching his century off 99 balls with his third maximum, a blow which was still rising just before crossing the rope in front of the pavilion.
Rawlins was dismissed next ball when Parkinson clung on to a sharp return catch and the leg-spinner took his third wicket when he had Wiese leg before wicket four overs later for 77. Lancashire’s only other wicket in an afternoon session which saw 197 runs scored was taken by Richard Gleeson, who had Chris Jordan caught behind by Dane Vilas for 11.
But all this entertainment and the aggression of Rawlins and Wiese was in contrast to the opening hour of play in which Sussex’s hesitant and error-strewn batting had resulted in the loss of four wickets.
Varun Chopra was the first to go for 15 when he nibbled at a ball he probably did not need to play from Gleeson and was caught behind by Vilas. Less than three overs later Luke Wells was leg before wicket to Onions for a third-ball duck and Stiaan van Zyl followed for six soon after when a flick down the leg side off Gleeson only edged another catch to Vilas.
The important dismissal of visiting skipper Ben Brown, caught at mid-wicket by Haseeb Hameed for four when chipping a ball from Onions into the leg side, meant that Sussex had lost four wickets inside the first hour.
Phil Salt was bowled by Parkinson for 37 on the stroke of lunch when he played the ball down into a foothole and it spun back into the off stump. At that point Sussex seemed likely to lose heavily but Rawlins’ batting brought a smile back to the faces on the away dressing room balcony. Onions finished the match with three for 18 and Gleeson took three for 62.
Rawlins said: "After facing two balls and not getting any in the first innings it was nice to cash in and get the monkey off my back by getting my first hundred. I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well the last couple of weeks and I’ve got a couple of scores but I’ve not been able to kick on.
"It’s a shame about the result because nobody likes losing but it’s a nice personal milestone for me. Hopefully in the next few weeks we can turn it around as a team and get some more wins. David Wiese played some incredible shots out there and he nearly caught me up at one point. It’s nice to see him back in the runs again.
"It’s been a tough couple of weeks and if anyone had got a hundred, the boys would have been on the balcony but the boys knew that getting the first one is important and it was nice to have their support and feel it out in the middle
"My bowling’s still a work in progress and hopefully in a few years’ time I can be considered an out and out all-rounder.
"We’ve struggled a bit in championship cricket so it’s nice that T20 is round the corner. We have new faces coming in and hopefully we can go one better than we did last year when we got to the final and this year actually lift the trophy."