Sussex newcomer Aaron Thomason scored a superb 90 on his first class debut to frustrate Worcestershire’s last day push for victory in the drawn Specsavers County Championship match at Kidderminster.
Thomason, signed earlier this month from Warwickshire, came to the wicket with Sussex on 314-8 20 minutes before lunch – a lead of 186 and still nearly 70 overs remaining. But he batted with great authority and shepherded last man Abidine Sakande in adding 82 for the final wicket to take the game away from the home side.
It was a record 10th wicket partnership for Sussex in matches against Worcestershire.
Thomason, who played only white ball cricket during his spell at Edgbaston, was eventually last out – bowled by Brett D’Oliveira – after hitting four sixes and 11 fours in his 115 ball knock. He kept the strike so effectively that Sakande, who ended on five not out, faced just 26 balls during a stand spanning 18.5 overs.
The outcome might have been so different had Worcestershire keeper Ben Cox been able to hold onto a difficult chance away to his left offered by Thomason when on two off Ed Barnard. Worcestershire were left a target of 297 in 40 overs and lost the wickets of Josh Dell (15) and Callum Ferguson (13) in reaching 82-2 before the two sides shook hands with Daryl Mitchell unbeaten on 34.
Sussex had resumed on 236-5 and Worcestershire made encouraging early progress. Laurie Evans added only seven more runs to his overnight 106 after Sussex resumed on 236-5 before he edged Ross Whiteley through to keeper Ben Cox. It ended a partnership of 61 with David Weise.
The second new ball became due after 13 overs and brought two further breakthroughs. Worcestershire club captain Joe Leach struck in his second over when Wiese (47) was trapped lbw.
The 300 came up in the 97th over before Chris Jordan (8) also became an lbw victim to Ed Barnard at 314-8. At that juncture it all pointed towards a potential Worcestershire victory and a further scalp came just after the resumption when Ollie Robinson (23) cut a short ball from Whiteley to backward point.
But Thomason had other ideas and, with the support of Sakande, ensured that an early finish was the likely outcome.
Sussex Head Coach Jason Gillespie said: “Coming into today’s play, it was important we stuck to our task and didn’t look too far ahead because you can lose your focus on the job in hand. It was about securing the game and we had a number of very good partnerships and we were able to do that.
“The surface won out in the end. There wasn’t enough in it for the bowlers. If you were willing to dig in as a batter, it was very difficult and you had to play a long time and we didn’t have enough time in the game to force a result.
“With Aaron Thomason, the way he went about things was excellent. He and Abi Sakande batted together for the best part of 20 overs and Abi faced less than 30 balls.
“I thought for a young man playing his first game, his management of that situation was fantastic and it was a very mature knock. He knew when to attack and when to rotate the strike. We are leaving a lot of work to do for our numbers six, seven and eight who are doing the bulk of the work.
“We’ve spoken about it and there have been a couple of games where the top four or five had done their jobs but this game they haven’t done that and it’s something we need to work and improve on.”