Delray Rawlins’ teammate Harry Finch’s century was the highlight of another useful day of pre-season preparation for Sussex as they made Hampshire work hard to leave The 1st Central County Ground with a draw at the end of the final day of this pre-season encounter.
Finch was in sprightly mood when Sussex resumed their innings on 150 for three earlier in the day. He needed just two and a half overs of the day’s play to score the 13 runs he needed to reach his half-century as the hosts quickly overtook Hampshire’s first innings total.
Meanwhile, Luke Wright was watchful and well-organized at the other end, basing his approach on a solid defense. He was unfortunate to get a delivery that kept a little low from Keith Barker that knocked back his off stump having added ten to his overnight score of 20.
With Laurie Evans joining him in the middle, Finch continued to look in complete control as he middled drives and pull shots alike. He looked particularly authoritative against the left-arm spin of Liam Dawson, against whom he scored 35 of his runs, including two sweetly struck sixes straight down the ground.
His century came up in the 24th over of the day from 146 balls, including ten fours to go with those two sixes, at which point he retired to give his teammates an opportunity to bat.
Eventually Sussex were all out for 340, a lead of 173.
Abi Sakande made an immediate breakthrough in Hampshire’s second innings with his third ball; a muscular, lifting delivery just outside off-stump that was diverted via Joe Weatherley’s outside edge to George Garton at third slip.
Tom Haines was next to strike as Sam Northeast popped one up to Jordan Shaw at mid-wicket to leave Hampshire 33 for two and Sussex sniffing a rare win in one of these pre-season affairs, however inconsequential in the long-term.
A swashbuckling Rilee Rossouw put paid to that as he went on the offensive in a manner that, if he were being honest, he probably won’t be looking to replicate come the first Championship fixture of the season.
His first fifty came off 47 balls and when he lost Liam Dawson to trialist Jordan Shaw, the South African had made 78 of Hampshire’s total of 101.
Rossouw upped his pace even further as he raced to a century from just 69 balls, before retiring on 104 with the scoreboard reading 133 for five. Aneurin Donald (2) had been stumped off Will Beer two overs previously.
Beer took two more wickets – Gareth Berg caught at long off by Tom Haines and James Fuller trapped in front by a well-executed googly – before time was called at the end of the day’s 90 overs with Hampshire finishing on 181 for seven.
Sussex’s bowlers come out of the fixture with 17 wickets amongst them, while nearly all the batsmen spent invaluable time in the middle as preparations for the new season continue to progress nicely.