Goodwin's 210 puts Sussex level at the top

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The Independent Online

Sussex kept up the pressure on the First Division leaders, Surrey, with a spectacular batting display to reach 521 for 8 from 104 overs against Essex at Colchester yesterday in the County Championship.

Murray Goodwin cracked a superb double century as Sussex showed no signs of faltering in their pursuit of the title, ending the day level at the top with Surrey as they built up a commanding position.

Goodwin, the former Zimbabwe batsman, led the way with a career-best 210. He shared in a season-best opening stand of 202 with Richard Montgomerie, who fell three short of his century, and went on to hit 30 fours and two sixes in a near full day at the crease. The pair were dropped early in their innings by Will Jefferson ­ Goodwin, when he had made 17 and Montgomerie when on 24 ­ both off the luckless Graham Napier.

Essex enjoyed some luck with the middle order, cutting their visitors back to 325 for 5 at one point, with Mohammad Akram, on his championship debut, claiming five wickets including Chris Adams for nought. But Matthew Prior's unbeaten 104 ensured Sussex finished the day well in control and with maximum batting points safely accrued. To make matters worse for Essex, their fast bowler Tony Palladino had to be taken off on a stretcher after falling awkwardly on his shoulder.

"I think the pitch will favour our spin bowlers quite a lot as the game progresses so I am delighted with our efforts," Adams, the Sussex captain, said. "After winning the toss, I was hoping we would make a total of 350 and regarded anything above 400 as a big bonus. We have put ourselves in a strong position and now it is to be hoped we can take full advantage."

In the other First Division match, Trent Bridge lived up to its new reputation as a tricky wicket. Two days after the Test pitch provided invariable bounce ­ and an excellent result for England ­ 20 wickets fell on the first day as Kent established a 65-run first-innings lead over the bottom side, Nottinghamshire

Only 100 from just 98 balls with two sixes and 18 fours by Kevin Pietersen prevented total humiliation as the hosts were bowled out for 177. Martin Saggers claimed 5 for 42 in 13.2 overs and Andrew Symonds chipped in with 3 for 38 as Nottinghamshire failed to provide any support for Pietersen. They did, however, end the day on a high, fighting back to bowl Kent out for 242, Chris Cairns returning the best figures with 3 for 59.

In the Second Division, the leaders Worcestershire fought back against Somerset at New Road. The promotion favourites conceded 29 boundaries in a lunch total of 150 for 1, but dismissed their opponents for 296 and replied with 86 for 2. Somerset's first three batsmen ­ Matt Wood (53), Neil Edwards (45) and Michael Burns (89) ­ contributed 187 runs before Worcestershire adjusted their tactics by combining flight and pace.

Northamptonshire's promotion challenge was maintained at Derby as Derbyshire collapsed from 83 for 2 to 138 all out after Northamptonshire had put them in, and by the close, Mike Hussey's team had cruised to 224 for 1. Hussey (103) and Phil Jaques (99) shared an unbroken second-wicket stand of 196.

Martin Love hit an unbeaten 181 for Durham against Hampshire at Chester-le-Street. After winning the toss, Durham reached 388 for 7 withPaul Collingwood making nine on his comeback.

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