|LV= County Championship Division Two, The 1st Central County Ground, Hove (day four)|
|Durham 223 & 364-3: Dickson 186, Lees 105|
|Sussex 538: Pujara 203; Trevaskis 5-128|
|Sussex (15 pts) drew with Durham (10 pts)|
Opening batters Sean Dickson and Alex Lees compiled the fourth highest partnership in Durham’s history as their 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 16:50 BST Durham were 364-3 and leading by 49. Sussex take 15 points from this Division Two contest, five more than their opponents.
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, on 67, 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 could not hold a very difficult chance at short leg when Lees was on 97 and shortly afterwards the batter 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 10 fours and faced 262 balls and it was a surprise when he smashed a full toss from Crane straight to deep midwicket.
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 15:00.
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, who had handed over wicket-keeping duties to Ali Orr by then and bowled a couple of overs of medium pace before the game ended.
Durham opener Alex Lees:
“It turned into a bit of a dull draw. 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 as when I got 182 against Glamorgan with how I actually felt at the crease but it’s a good sign for me in terms of my mental application. When you don’t feel right and can still score runs that’s pleasing.
“Having had a taste of Test cricket I want to play as much as I can but my only thoughts are short-term. I need to get re-selected first and foremost. I’m just trying to get my head down in the next three first-class games, getting runs for Durham.”
Sussex coach Ian Salisbury:
“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.
“We bowled much better than on Saturday 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. The way he prepares is an example to all the other players too.”
Report supplied by the ECB Reporters’ Network.