Sussex 171 MCC 130-4: Harris makes instant impact to bowl shaky Sussex lifeline

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The Independent Online

It was not just the chill which had Sussex followers shivering during the first two sessions of the opening day of the new cricket season. The way an aggressive and energetic MCC attack set about dismantling the reigning County Champions' batting must have filled even the most die-hard of fans with trepidation.

Two of the England Lions' successes of the winter, Graham Onions and Steve Kirby, shone brightly for MCC, the latter picking up his 12th four-wicket haul in First Class cricket.

However, when the Sussex attack got their hands on the ball they hit back hard and by the close held the advantage, although they could not prevent MCC's Owais Shah from scoring a 66-ball fifty on his way to an unbeaten 72.

Throughout the day wickets fell in threes, Gloucestershire's Kirby setting the standard by knocking off the top of the Sussex batting order. He ended a promising opening stand between Chris Nash and Carl Hopkinson just when it was beginning to gain momentum, trapping the former lbw. Left-hander Michael Yardy came in and smacked three fours in one Kirby over only to edge the bowler to second slip shortly after, and when Hopkinson tried to fend off one that climbed on him it gave the bowler three for 18 in just 27 balls.

Early in the afternoon it was the turn of Onions, the Durham strike bowler who accounted for Matt Prior, Sussex captain Chris Adams and all-rounder Luke Wright for a measly 18 runs in 32 balls. After Kirby had picked up his fourth victim, Robin Martin-Jenkins, Kent off-spinner James Tredwell wrapped it all up with a clinical three for 11 in 24 balls.

The champions looked vulnerable but in Ryan Harris they have a gem. The powerfully-built Australian shared the new ball with Jason Lewry and showed why he is likely to be a key figure in Sussex's title defence this year. Harris, who arrived on the South Coast last week, was only granted his registration by the England and Wales Cricket Board on Wednesday.

He generated bounce and movement away from the bat from the Nursery End and the result was that he sent back MCC captain Ed Joyce, opening bat Michael Carberry and England all-rounder Ravi Bopara in 28 balls. He also ran out Adil Rashid with a direct hit from mid-on having run around from mid-wicket.