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Warwickshire draw with Sussex to secure promotion

Dominic Sibley batted throughout the day for his third championship century of the season.
Dominic Sibley batted throughout the day for his third championship century of the season.

WARWICKSHIRE clinched promotion back to the Specsavers County Championship Division One at the first attempt by batting their way emphatically to the draw they needed against Sussex at Hove.

Under no pressure to push for victory, having banked enough points from eight wins in their first 12 games, the Bears spent the entire final day at the crease before finishing on 381 for three.

Vice-captain Dominic Sibley led the way, batting throughout the day for his third championship century of the season and second in successive matches: 144 not out (342 balls, 12 fours).

Sibley shared in two big partnerships that snuffed the life out of Sussex's challenge: 158 in 45 overs for the first wicket with Will Rhodes (88, 146 balls, 11 fours, one six) and 168 in 54 for the third with Sam Hain (90, 165 balls,12 fours).

The match ended with cheers and celebrations among Warwickshire's players up on the dressing-room balcony and from their travelling supporters.

Promotion assured, the Bears now face a mouth-watering final match of the season, a Division Two title duel at home to Kent starting at Edgbaston on Monday. Both teams are going up but the winners, if there are any next week, will go up as champions.

Further positive news arrived for the Bears regarding Ian Bell who retired hurt in the morning session after taking a rising ball from Ollie Robinson on the right thumb. An x-ray revealed no fracture and, though there is serious bruising, Bell could be fit to face Kent.

Warwickshire resumed on the final morning on 141 without loss and Sibley and Rhodes extended their partnership to 158 before Rhodes fell lbw to Robinson. Bell's innings was quickly truncated by that Robinson lifter and Jonathan Trott chipped Chris Jordan to mid-wicket but Hain immediately settled in alongside Sibley.

A Sussex victory would have kept them in the promotion hunt but their challenge was extinguished as the afternoon session deepened. Their acceptance of that showed when captain Ben Brown gave batsmen Phil Salt and Michael Burgess their first bowl in first-class cricket.

Salt collected his maiden wicket when Hain, ten short of a deserved century, edged to the wicketkeeper, but there was no shifting Sibley. Back to Division One go the Bears.

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