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Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Wednesday, 8 September 2010 14:03 UK

Sussex bonus points seal return to top flight

CLOSE OF PLAY, DAY TWO: Northants 125 & 48-2, Sussex 381
Sussex 7 pts, Northants 3 pts
Match scorecard

Chris Nash
Opener Chris Nash's 169 was his third Championship century of the summer

Sussex will be back in the top flight of the County Championship next season after sealing promotion on day two of their home game against Northants.

Resuming on 236-2, needing 350 to claim the three extra bonus points needed, they did suffer a clatter of wickets.

Chris Nash went for 169, one of three wickets in four balls for David Lucas, before Ollie Rayner scampered the all-important single that took them to 350.

Sussex ended on 381, before striking twice to leave Northants on 48-2.

That earns Sussex, champions in 2003, 2006 and 2007 but relegated 12 months ago, an instant return to the top flight after just a year's absence.

Sussex began the game needing a maximum of eight points to secure promotion. But Worcestershire's failure to pick up maximum batting points against Middlesex at Lord's meant that seven would suffice.

And Gloucestershire's subsequent failure to take any batting points at Grace Road against Leicestershire meant Sussex would, in any case, have been assured of a top-two finish.

Bad light intervened to save Northants any further punishment, but the visitors will resume on Thursday morning needing a further 209 just to make Sussex bat again.

After the start was delayed for an hour because of rain, Nash and Ben Brown took advantage of some wayward bowling as they put on 92 in 20 overs for the third wicket.

Nash set the tone by pulling the fourth ball of the day for six off Lee Daggett before completing 1,000 first-class runs for the second successive year when he reached 140.

He then passed 150 for the third time in the last five games.

But Sussex collapsed dramatically after lunch, losing eight wickets for 58 runs in 24 overs.

Mightiest Martlet

Nash's innings ended tamely when he gave an easy catch to backward point, Murray Goodwin fell in identical fashion to the next ball and, although Matt Prior averted the hat-trick, he steered the next ball tamely to second slip.

Sussex lost their fourth wicket of the session when Brown picked out mid-on to give James Middlebrook the first of two wickets and when Andrew Hodd edged the off-spinner to slip his side had lost 5-11 in 7.4 overs.

Yasir Arafat was then dropped at long leg by Daggett before he and Rayner safely secured the fourth batting point.

Jack Brooks returned with the new ball to take three of the last four wickets to fall to finish with 4-88.

In a lop-sided innings eight batsman had contributed just 55 runs between them but Sussex still took a first-innings lead of 256. And they soon made inroads when Northants batted again.

Arafat bowled opener Stephen Peters for the second time in the match via an inside edge and then trapped Alex Wakely leg before.

Rain returned shortly afterwards but Sussex are well placed to wrap up a victory which would almost certainly clinch the Division Two title.

Sussex batsman Michael Thornely told BBC Sussex:
"It was one of our targets this year to jump back up into the first division so it's good to have achieved it with one game to spare.

"It's where we've been for the last few years. We set ourselves high standards and I think it's where we deserve to be as a club.

"We've got great players within our team and it's great to bring first division cricket back to Hove.

"The coaches deserve a lot of applause for putting in the hard work to get us ready to play on the pitch."

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see also
Sussex on the brink of promotion
07 Sep 10 |  Counties

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