Sussex 277 Notts 46-2: Prior's ton reinforces case for England return
Wednesday 21 May 2008
Some say Matt Prior will win back his England place only if he gives up the idea of keeping wicket and concentrates on the batting talent for which he was originally picked, for the 50-over side, in 2004.
Given that the queue for top-six batting places in the Test team does not look a particularly long one, it might not be a bad idea, although Peter Moores, the England head coach, has reportedly dissuaded him from any such thoughts.
The runs, nonetheless, are stacking up. Yesterday's 131, which is his highest Championship score for almost five years, took his first-class aggregate for the season to 518 runs. In six Championship innings so far he has only once failed to reach 50 and twice gone past 100.
Yesterday's effort was one of special merit given that Sussex were 33 for 4 when the dismissal of his captain, Chris Adams, for a duck, hastened him to the middle. With Darren Pattinson's prolific early-season form continuing – Adams was the Nottinghamshire pace bowler's third victim of the morning in his sixth over – the home side were threatening to humble the champions as they had Lancashire.
Sussex initially continued to wobble, slipping to 74 for 6 after Murray Goodwin and Luke Wright smacked balls straight to fielders, and Prior had an escape on 20 when a sharper Mark Ealham would have run him out.
As the ball lost some of its venom in the afternoon, however, Prior commanded the field, pulling, cutting and driving with growing confidence, despite the cracked finger he sustained last week. Aided by Robin Martin-Jenkins in a 142-run partnership for the seventh wicket, he completed his century off 115 balls and had scored 19 boundaries by the time Graeme Swann bowled him. Jason Lewry did his bit as well with a dogged 27.
With Mushtaq Ahmed back in their side after knee surgery, Sussex's 277 might be a competitive score. After losing both openers for 25, Nottinghamshire need Mark Wagh and Adam Voges to dispel the notion that their top-order batting is a weakness, although Wagh has already been dropped twice.
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