The loss of the toss was not the most shattering thing to hit defending County Champions Sussex today. The thing that left supporters agog and worried was the news that Mushtaq Ahmed, their match-winning, nay title-winning, Pakistani leg spinner underwent a knee operation yesterday and will be out for at least three weeks.
At the moment it looks as if Mushy will miss just one other LV County Championship match, against Somerset at Taunton starting on 15 May, the prognosis being that he will need just three weeks to recover from the repair of a torn cartilage in his right knee.
Surrey’s decision to invite Sussex to bat meant that there was still a Pakistani spinner in action before lunch who bore the name Mushtaq, although Saqlain Mushtaq is an off-spinner.
He was introduced into the attack after 20 overs at which point Sussex openers Chris Nash and Carl Hopkinson had put on 67 untroubled runs and seen off the Surrey strike attack of Pedro Collins, Jimmy Ormond, who has just agreed a one year deal with the Oval authorities that gives him gainful employment for this season, Matt Nicholson, the Australian, and the youngster Chris Jordan.
Nash was the more fluent of the Sussex openers, borne out by the fact that he outscored his partner at a rate of two to one, but he then got bogged down in the faltering forties for half an hour, time enough for Collins, on his return from the Cromwell Road End, to put the batsman out of his misery and he played on when he was just four runs short of fifty on the stroke of lunch.