Essex nearly Cook up a win

PUBLISHED: 19:52 20 April 2016 | UPDATED: 19:52 20 April 2016

Essex's Alastair Cook hits out on his way to a century (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

Essex's Alastair Cook hits out on his way to a century (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA Wire

Opener’s century in vain in Sussex draw

Essex had to settle for a draw at Sussex, despite a superb unbeaten century from Alastair Cook on the final day of their County Championship Division Two encounter at Hove.

The England captain batted for 91 overs to hit an unbeaten 127 as Essex, chasing 329 for a second successive victory this season, eventually came up short on 266-7.

Former Oaks Park pupil Jamie Porter struck early on the final morning to dismiss Ajmal Shahzad, who was caught by Jess Ryder, and complete his maiden five-wicket haul to end the Sussex innings on 288.

That left Essex needing a challenging 329 to win and Cook was dropped with only a single to his name in reply.

The visitors lost South Woodford’s Nick Browne cheaply and Tom Westley, having top scored in the first innings, was then dismissed for 16, but Ravi Bopara helped England Test captain Cook take the total to 80, passing 10,000 first-class runs in the process, only to flick a ball from Shahzad to deep square leg and the diving Matt Machan to fall for 28 shortly before lunch.

Trinity High School old boy Dan Lawrence helped Cook add just 14 runs in the first 10 overs after lunch, batting vigilantly and eventually reaching 22 in a 48-run stand before he was trapped leg before by Shahzad to leave Essex 128-4.

Cook had reached his half-century just before Lawrence’s dismissal, from 112 balls, and then found able support from Ryder to take Essex to 172-4 at tea, which left the visitors needing another 157 from 32 overs.

The fifth-wicket pair kept chipping away at the target in the final session, with Ryder hitting Danny Briggs down the ground for six as Essex moved towards the 200 mark.

And Cook completed his second county championship century of the summer from 189 deliveries, having hit 11 boundaries, to keep hopes of victory alive.

Essex lost Ryder soon after a drinks break as he played on to his own stumps to depart for 35, ending a 103-run partnership with Cook, and were left needing 95 from 16 overs when the umpires signalled the last hour of play.

Captain Ryan ten Doeschate fell for just four runs to a brilliant catch at deep cover by Machan, off the bowling of Wells, and Wanstead old boy James Foster followed for five when trapped leg before by Shahzad attempting a leg glance.

That left Essex 251-7 with 10 overs still to be bowled and Sussex took the second new ball in a late bid to force victory themselves.

Graham Napier found the third man boundary soon after, but Essex were more interested in survival at this point, with only Porter and last man Matt Dixon to come.

Sussex rotated their bowlers in a bid for the vital breakthrough, surrounding Napier with fielders, but the experienced all-rounder held his nerve to help see Essex safely to the close with Cook.

Sussex 360 (Nash 119) and 288 (Nash 92; Porter 5-82) drew with Essex 329 (Westley 86) and 266-7 (Browne 3; Cook 127*; Westley 16; Bopara 28; Lawrence 22; Ryder 35; ten Doeschate 4; Foster 5; Napier 6*).

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