Weather and a resolute batting performance prevented a Derbyshire victory on the final day of the LV=Insurance County Championship match at Derby.
The opener stood firm to score an unbeaten 36 from 95 balls and take Sussex to 84 for 3 when rain after tea scuppered Derbyshire’s hopes of ending their winless run in red ball cricket at the Incora County Ground.
Luis Reece had set up that prospect with 86 from 108 balls to propel the home side to 229 for 6, a lead of 129 and a lunchtime declaration.
That left Sussex 68 overs to bat to save a game in which the first two days were lost to rain and Clark’s determination plus some assistance from the weather saw them home although they were docked a point for a slow over rate.
The draw means Derbyshire have now failed to win a championship game at Derby since September 2019.
Sussex had plenty to prove after a third day display branded as “appalling” by head coach Paul Farbrace but they did not begin well with Ali Orr at mid off spilling an easy catch offered by Brooke Guest.
With Derbyshire intent on scoring quickly, it did not prove costly as Guest was bowled coming down the pitch to Sean Hunt who also removed Reece two overs later.
Reece had taken the attack to the bowlers from the start and his attempt to run a ball to the third man boundary ended in the hands of first slip.
Luis du Plooy, who will be playing for Middlesex next season, marked his final innings as a Derbyshire player at Derby by launching Fynn Hudson-Prentice over the ropes at wide long off before he was caught behind trying to ramp Jaydev Unadkat.
Orr made up for his miss by leaping high at mid-wicket to take a great catch to remove Matt Lamb but Derbyshire moved towards a lunchtime declaration with Alex Thomson pulling Henry Crocombe for six.
Derbyshire had bowled Sussex out in 37 overs in the first innings and they now had 68 overs to try and force a first red ball victory at Derby for four years.
It was a question of whether Sussex could show more resolve second time around but Orr, who played a poor shot on day three, fell to another loose drive which ended in the hands of mid off in the sixth over.
After a brief stoppage for rain, acting captain Tom Alsop went to cut a ball from Thomson that turned away from him and dragged it into his stumps.
It was another inappropriate shot for the situation but Clark was providing the application required although he lost James Coles six overs before tea.
Coles was given out lbw to Pat Brown even though the ball struck him high and appeared to be going down the leg side.
Dan Ibrahim stayed with Clark until tea with Sussex still 48 behind but after the interval rain arrived and the game was called off after a second pitch inspection at 4.30pm.
Derbyshire head of cricket Mickey Arthur said: “We have been in good positions three times in games this season and the rain has come which kind of sums up the year really.
“But I was really happy with the skills again, the way the guys are playing has shown a real development, they are getting better and better and I can’t fault them in any way, every day they bring attitude, intensity and our dressing room is a really good place to be at the minute.
“We had two options really, declare overnight which was the real rogue option and we spoke about that, to use the early morning conditions and give it another crack and chase whatever we had to or do we try and give them a little bit of scoreboard pressure and that was the route we went which I think was probably the best one.”
On Wayne Madsen’s finger injury he said: “Luckily it’s not broken, there’s issues with his tendon and when I saw it yesterday I think we’ve got the best possible outcome I think we could have got.
“Wayne has had a monster year for us, not only in runs and catches but also what he brings to our dressing room, so it’s disappointing to lose him for the last game.”
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