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County cricket: Luke Wells and Ben Brown star for Sussex at Hove

Luke Wells fell four runs short of his century

Boyd Rankin: Three wickets on Warwickshire return

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Luke Wells and Ben Brown both struck day three half-centuries to edge Sussex towards parity in their LV= County Championship clash with defending champions Warwickshire at Hove.

The 22-year-old left-hander Wells carried on his fine start to the season with a fluent 96 and Brown reached the close unbeaten on 82 as Sussex (416-7) collected maximum batting points in reply to Warwickshire's first-innings 453.

Wells, who scored a career-best 208 on a similarly flat pitch at The Oval last week, looked like adding a century before he was yorked by Boyd Rankin to fall four runs short.

Warwickshire plugged away throughout with Rankin, in his first appearance of the season after 10 weeks out with a foot injury, the pick of their seam attack with figures of 3-60, however a draw looks the certain outcome with a day to go.

In front of England selector Geoff Miller, Matt Prior briefly raised the tempo after lunch with a quickfire 42 and Brown registered his third half-century in four first-class innings.

Exposed

The morning session yielded just 89 runs with Rankin, who used his 6ft 8in frame to get some bounce out of the pitch, taking two wickets in 17 balls to briefly unsettle Sussex.

Mike Yardy (32) edged the third ball of his spell to slip then Wells, who had faced 217 deliveries in four and a half hours at the crease, was beaten for pace by the Irishman and lost his off stump.

Prior predictably went for his shots either side of lunch, hitting Jeetan Patel's off spin for three successive boundaries on his way to 42 from 40 deliveries before he was caught behind trying to run a wide delivery from Chris Wright down to third man.

Ed Joyce was dropped by wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose off Rankin down the leg-side with just two runs to his name and the Sussex skipper laboured for 125 balls over his 42 before driving Tom Milnes tamely to short mid-on.

Rory Hamilton-Brown was pinned in front having made 18 to earn Chris Woakes belated reward for his consistency then Rankin returned to the attack after tea to claim his third wicket when Chris Jordan (16) wafted to slip.

Sussex were still 93 runs behind at that stage with their tail exposed but Brown, playing in this game as a specialist batsman, batted with increasing confidence and closed on 82 not out, having faced 143 balls with seven fours.