Davies dazzles after bowlers lead fightback against Sussex
A fabulous 73 by Alex Davies and an outstanding performance by the Red Rose bowlers brought Lancashire roaring back into contention on an incident-packed third day of this enthralling LV= Insurance County Championship match against Sussex at Hove.
Davies took on the hosts attack with a dazzling display as Lancashire raced away with a century partnership in pursuit of their 253-run winning target after their bowlers had earlier combined to bowl Sussex out cheaply on a day where 16 wickets tumbled.
Davies went for his shots from the start and the youthful Sussex attack had no real answer as he pulled Henry Crocombe for six and drove three fours all in the same 5th over that went for 18 runs.
The batsman/wicketkeeper continued in similar vein to reach his half century from just 35 balls with a further four boundaries making light of the task at hand.
Keaton Jennings provided the perfect foil, rotating the strike effectively in a century partnership that arrived in the same 21st over that saw Davies depart after feathering an edge onto his stumps off Stuart Meaker.
Jennings (35 not out) and Luke Wells took Lancashire to within two overs of stumps before Wells was lbw to Jack Carson for 12. Nightwatchman Saqib Mahmood survived through to the close and will join Jennings on 124-2 when play resume tomorrow with a further 129 runs required.
Lancashire had harboured hopes of lower order runs helping reduce the 135-run deficit when play began but they lost their remaining four wickets for 37 runs in 11 overs as the Sussex attack made short work of their task.
Josh Bohannon was lbw for 37 when Jamie Atkins jagged a delivery back sharply the over just after the batsman had driven Crocombe for four to bring up the fifty partnership for the seventh wicket with Danny Lamb.
Tom Bailey was bowled for 3 by Crocombe before Stuart Meaker trapped Lamb in front for 27 and wrapped up the innings for 230 all out when Matt Parkinson gloved a shortish ball to wicketkeeper Ben Brown for 2.
But Sussex were soon on the back foot themselves after opening pair Aaron Thomason and Tom Haines had added 28 runs to the hosts’ 98-run advantage.
It was Lamb who made the breakthrough in the 11th over, initially surprising Thomason with a sharply rising delivery that hit the shoulder of his bat but fell safely. Possibly unsettled by that Thomason edged to Wells at first slip two balls later to depart for 9.
Without addition to the score Haines offered no shot to a Tom Bailey delivery that came back into the left hander to be lbw for 19 while Stiaan van Zyl edged a forward defensive push off Bailey to Liam Livingstone at second slip for 5 on the stroke of lunch.
And Bailey was soon celebrating a third wicket in 15 deliveries when play restarted trapping Tom Clark lbw for 4.
Lamb followed with the wicket of Brown, lbw for 3 from a pitched-up swinging delivery, which meant Sussex had lost five wickets for 24 runs to be 52-5 before rain enforced a short delay of 40 minutes.
Delray Rawlins steered Sussex into calmer territory with a positive 45 and he received excellent support from George Garton with a 35-run partnership for sixth wicket and 37 for the eighth with Carson to extend the hosts lead towards 250.
But wickets continued to fall at the other end; Garton lbw for 19 to a fast swinging Mahmood delivery while Meaker turned a Liam Livingstone delivery into the hands of Steven Croft at midwicket after making 9.
Carson departed lbw to Matt Parkinson for 21 who next produced another sensational delivery, landing a delivery well outside Rawlins’ off stump that gripped to dart back and bowl the bemused batsman who had offered no shot.
Livingstone wrapped up the innings on 154 by trapping Crocombe on the back foot plumb in front leaving Lancashire needing 253 to win, a tough-looking task in the context of what had gone before, which Davies and Jennings made light of over the final part of an astonishing day.
Photos: Luke Adams