Cricket: Peirce's stand boosts Sussex

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Nottinghamshire 275 and 11-3 Sussex 324

TOBY PEIRCE, the young Sussex batsman, describes his relaxations as "aviation, dining out and wine by the bottle," which makes him sound like some sort of latter-day Biggles, perhaps with a dash of Bertie Wooster thrown in. In short, the kind of chap you might expect to wield a cricket bat with a good measure of joie de vivre.

If this is the case, he disguised it well yesterday. Having survived a crisis on Wedneday in which two of his partners failed without scoring, the 24-year-old opener resolutely held his ground until well into the afternoon, an innings spanning almost five and a half hours of cricket as soporific as the balmy warmth in which it unfolded. It may prove the foundation for a Sussex win after their brightest young bowler, 23-year- old James Kirtley, had reduced the home side to 11 for 3 last night.

At the end of it all the poor fellow was out for 96, lbw to a trundler, which was less than he deserved. You could not blame him in the slightest for being cautious. Having failed to make the most of a first day when the ball swung, Sussex in reply had slipped to 61 for 4 by the 10th over yesterday, a highly unpromising position from which to attack Nottinghamshire's 275.

However, aided in like style by 22-year-old James Carpenter, Peirce shifted the balance. It took 51 overs, but by the time umpire Roy Palmer granted Mathew Dowman his ninth first-class wicket (in five seasons) and sent Peirce on his way, the two left-handers had added 147 runs.

Actually, it was not all dull. Carpenter, who had carefully negotiated 136 balls in making 45, smacked the next one back over Paul Strang's head to reach 51 with a six.

There was an odd passage, too, in which Peirce, looking unlikely to be dislodged by any of Nottinghamshire's toiling bowlers, was almost run out three times in the 80s.

Carpenter, whose 65 was a career best, ultimately departed by that method. But a platform had by then been established for Keith Newell, who scored 48, and Paul Jarvis, who made 25, to attain a lead which looked especially useful when Nottinghamshire, who had Jason Gallian under treatment for a torn groin muscle, lost Paul Pollard, the nightwatchman Alex Wharf - bagging a king pair for his trouble - and then Tim Robinson to the lively Kirtley.