Snow ball called! Sussex and Lancashire defeeated by winter blast
A game that had often seemed at the mercy of some eccentric weather was brought to a premature conclusion just after lunch on this final day when 20 minutes’ heavy snow ultimately caused the abandonment of Lancashire’s LV= County Championship match with Sussex at Emirates Old Trafford.
The game was eventually called off at 3.20 with Sussex 103 for two in their second innings. The only remotely cricket-related activity to have taken place on the ground in the previous 90 minutes was an impromptu snowball fight among the Sussex players. Lancashire take 16 points from the match to Sussex’s 14.
Aaron Thomason ended the day 46 not out and Tom Clark was unbeaten on 14. Both the wickets to fall were taken by the Lancashire fast bowler Saqib Mahmood.
In truth a draw had always seemed the most likely outcome since the Sussex openers, Thomason and Tom Haines, had negotiated the first hour of play without alarm. Lancashire’s frustration was evident in some lively exchanges between the home captain, Dane Vilas, and Thomason but these discussions required no more than the quiet intervention of umpires Neil Bainton and Mark Saggers.
Lancashire took the wickets that gave them hope of forcing a victory in successive overs just after twelve o’clock. Haines was dismissed for 26 just after twelve o’clock when he hooked Mahmood straight to the precisely positioned Tom Hartley at long leg.
That ended the opening stand of 72 and Mahmood struck again in his next over when he had Stiaan van Zyl leg before wicket for four. However, they were the only successes that Lancashire enjoyed during the morning and Sussex survived to come into lunch on 94 for two with Thomason unbeaten on 41. Fifteen minutes after the resumption the snow arrived. Mahmood finished with two for 19 from 13 excellently hostile overs.
Lancashire assistant coach, Mark Chilton, said: “I can’t remember snow stopping play, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it before. Always a first, I suppose."
Sussex captain, Ben Brown, said: “I think that was a brilliant performance from our young side. I’m really proud of our efforts. To go toe to toe with a really strong Lancashire side, one that you would expect to be up there at the end of the season, was a great start to the season.
“We’ve had a really tough time up here over the last couple of years and you could see the improvements we’ve made. To judge from the last session of fiery cricket I think we rather surprised Lancashire and I thought we played a fantastic game. It’s just a shame that the weather took a hand on the last two days. We fancied our chances bowling last on that wicket.
“We’ve had a fantastic spirit in training over the winter and I knew we would play as a team this week. To see the guys have each other’s backs is something I’m very passionate about. I thought it was really hard first-class cricket but Sussex v Lancashire has a fantastic record of fiery games and to renew that and stand up for each other made it a great start to the year.”