HOVE (final day of four): Sussex (9pts) drew with Warwickshire (12pts)
A desperately slow pitch and resolute Sussex batting foiled Warwickshire's victory hopes in their first Championship match of the season.
In the end the pitch won. An unbroken stand of 385 for the third-wicket  equal second-highest in Sussex's 143-year first-class history  between Murray Godwin (359 balls, two sixes and 23 fours) and Michael Yardy (384 balls, 17 fours) steered their side away from trouble and illustrated the limitations of the Bears attack.
On such dead tracks and against such disciplined batsmen, they are willing but unable to produce the spark of genius to make things happen. There is no disgrace in that. This was the sort of pitch that makes bowlers wish they had become plumbers.
It is hard to think of any county attacks that would have fared appreciably better than Warwickshire's. Certainly none of the bowlers on display in this match looked capable of finding the pulse in a pitch that died at the end of the first day.
Perhaps a master spinner like Shane Warne, or a top-class seamer like Richard Hadlee might have made the breakthrough. But such players are few and far between. We are not in a strong bowling age.
Regular Warwickshire supporters may be unsurprised to know that the groundsman responsible for this pitch was the same fellow who prepared the featherbed of Horsham in 2004. Presumably he used to be a batsman. Just as on the second day then, here a whole day's play passed without a wicket falling. It doesn't make for thrilling cricket.
"The wicket just became flatter and flatter," Warwick-shire's bowling coach, Steve Perryman told The Post . "We're not going to come up against wickets like that very often.
"We have talked about bowling as a unit for a few years now. We've talked about keeping a tight economy rate and not allowing the batsmen any easy runs. And we've talked about bowling in good areas and being patient. I thought the seamers did all those things and bowled really, really well."
Maybe Daniel Vettori  who arrives in mid-May  might have made a difference. But so slow was any turn available that even he would have struggled. And it would be wrong to expect miracles from him. He is not the panacea for all Warwickshire's ills.
Although there is much truth in Perryman's words, it should surely never be accepted too readily that a side should bowl for seven-and-a-half hours and not create a chance.
Or that two batsmen who were out of form before the match should bat for 120.4 overs in relatively untroubled fashion.
Or that Warwickshire should concede the third largest stand in their entire 113-year history of first-class cricket.
Those are painful facts that should not be ignored.
The seamers, in particular, did their best. No-one could request more than that. They stuck to their plans and gave their all, conceding under two runs an over until tea. But the search for a penetrative bowler continues. Without some help in the pitch or the conditions this attack is verging on the innocuous and will struggle to bowl sides out twice. Perryman can't be expected to be an alchemist.
"I wouldn't say we're disappointed," Heath Streak told The Post. "In fact I'm chuffed to come out of the game with the points tally we did.
"I thought we bowled really well in the second innings. Neil Carter bowled a superb early spell and could have knocked Goodwin over. But it was a tough wicket and only the likes of Warne or maybe Vettori would have made a difference.
"Most of the runs they scored were due to the bowlers trying something different in frustration. We tried a lot of variation but there was no bounce and no pace. It wasn't the most attractive cricket."
Alex Loudon was disappointingly ineffective, however. While it is true that there was no assistance for his off-spin he was also unable to stem the flow of runs. He was milked like a Friesian and cut and pulled far more than can be comfortable for a spinner with aspirations. Perhaps more worryingly, there are starting to be a few grumbles about the legality of his action.
"He's just short of bowling," Perryman said.
"He had something like three overs in the previous match [for MCC] and will have come on for this. He'll be all right and his action is fine.
"Obviously it would have been ideal if Vettori had been available. But these are the sort of wickets that Jimmy Anyon needs to bowl on to learn and he did well.
"This wicket provided a real test of how the guys would stick to it and I'm very pleased with the way they did. We'll bowl less well and take loads of wickets."
Goodwin has a remarkable record against Warwickshire. He has scored five of his 41 first-class centuries against them, including three in his last four innings. This, his fourth double-century, was full of deliciously crisp driving, powerful pulling and deft placement off his legs. He is a very high-class player.
Yardy's effort was just as worthy but much more painstaking. He scored only 15 from 99 balls in a crucial morning session that brought a single boundary. It was a crucial passage of play for it began with Sussex still 41 runs in arrears with two wickets down and fighting to save the match.
The pair survived, however, and, once they had seen off a final blast with the new ball, took their opportunity to fill their boots as Warwickshire kept their senior bowl-ers for future battles. Indeed, the only entertainment value in the last hour or two was Michael Powell bowling in the manner of Gladstone Small. A very good impression it was, too, though the club would love to develop someone who could do an even better one.
There were plenty of positives to take from Mark Greatbatch's first Championship match as director of cricket. Warwickshire batted well, took maximum bonus points and remained focused and united throughout their travails. Heads never dropped and the fielding remained sharp. Their Championship triumph of 2004 was based on such tactics.
Dougie Brown is an injury concern ahead of Wednesday with an unspecified 'niggle', but both staff 'keepers, Tony Frost and Tim Ambrose, are back in training today. Frost is likely to play against Yorkshire but the admirable Freddie Klokker did his chances of earning a retainer no harm at all in an enthusiastic and sound display.