DELRAY RAWLINS is offering Sussex some rays of hope in some dark days.

But he could not spare them from a third heavy defeat in a row.

The county followed humiliations at home to Durham and Northants by losing to Lancashire.

If anything, defeat by an innings and 51 runs was the least depressing of the three, which speaks volumes about their recent run.

Sussex now take a break from Specsavers County Championship action after a galling three-week period which has sorely tested the patience of supporters and, clearly, head coach Jason Gillespie.

Rawlins believes the switch to the Vitality Blast, starting on Friday at Hampshire, comes at a good time.

But he has proved to be one of the brighter sparks of the three-week black patch, be it with wickets and runs against Durham, a super catch at Old Trafford.

Or the hugely attractive maiden first-class century which offered some signs of resistance from Sussex yesterday before the leaders wrapped up their win.

His 99-ball ton, which he reached with his third six, might just have spared Sussex from embarrassment. Depending on your definition of embarrassment.

Rawlins said: “We’ve struggled a bit in Championship cricket so it’s nice that T20 is round the corner.

“We have new faces coming in and hopefully we can go one better than we did last year when we got to the final and this year actually lift the trophy.”

With his trans-Atlantic background – born and raised in Bermuda before winning a scholarship at Bede’s School in Hailsham when he was 16 – it would be easy to draw comparisons between Rawlins, who is 21, and man of the moment Jofra Archer.

The England star was among the first to congratulate Rawlins on his ton via social media.

That comparison, of course, is hugely unfair. But Rawlins bats with some style, bowls (as a spinner, not a quick) and is good in the field, all helped by what appears a laidback attitude.

Rawlins, who has played for England under-19s, admitted: “My bowling’s still a work in progress and hopefully in a few years’ time I can be considered an out and out all-rounder.”

He showed some of the strokeplay which made him a hit in last season’s Blast yesterday, albeit with the contest all but over.

Team-mates applauded enthusiastically from the balcony as he reached 100 with a six off Jack Parkinson before offering a return catch off the next ball.

Rawlins said: “After facing two balls and not getting any in the first innings it was nice to cash in and get the monkey off my back by getting my first hundred.

“I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well the last couple of weeks and I’ve got a couple of scores but I’ve not been able to kick on.

“It’s a shame about the result because nobody likes losing but it’s a nice personal milestone for me.

“Hopefully in the next few weeks we can turn it around as a team and get some more wins.

“David Wiese played some incredible shots out there and he nearly caught me up at one point. It’s nice to see him back in the runs again.

“It’s been a tough couple of weeks and if anyone had got a hundred, the boys would have been on the balcony.

“But the boys knew that getting the first one is important and it was nice to have their support and feel it out in the middle.”

Rawlins shared an exhilarating sixth-wicket partnership of 128 with Wiese.

But the bottom line for Sussex, who now lose Mir Hamza and on-loan Varun Chopra, was a haul of just one point compared to 23 for their hosts.

Starting the day on 15 for no loss, still 352 adrift, they quickly slipped into what has become their customary deep hole.

Chopra nibbled at a ball he probably did not need to play from Richard Gleeson and was caught behind by Vilas.

Luke Wells, still inexplicably out of sorts, was leg before to Graham Onions for a third-ball duck and Stiaan van Zyl followed when a flick down the leg side off Gleeson only edged another catch to Vilas.

The important dismissal of Ben Brown, caught at midwicket by Haseeb Hameed for four when chipping a ball from Onions into the leg side, meant Sussex had lost four wickets inside the first hour.

Phil Salt was then bowled by Parkinson for 37 on the stroke of lunch when he played the ball down into a foothole and it spun back into the off stump.