Sussex 287-4, Worcestershire: Nash and Montgomerie keep Sussex in title hunt

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The Independent Online

If anyone had thought the destiny of the County Championship was settled then they were given plenty of food for a rethink by the Sussex batsmen. It was made clear that the defending champions would not be surrendering the title without a fight.

So while Lancashire toiled at The Oval, bottom-of-the-table Worcestershire were subjected to some hard labour on the south coast. Indeed it was an altogether good news day for Sussex, beginning with captain Chris Adams being passed fit to play despite five stitches in the webbing between the little and ring fingers of his right hand.

The injury clearly handicapped Adams – it took him 82 balls to find the boundary for the first time late in the final session of a day in which 15 overs were lost to rain and bad light. But by then Sussex had managed to build a sizeable innings, the foundations of which were laid by openers Chris Nash and Richard Montgomerie.

They produced the highest first wicket stand for Sussex in four years, as they ground down a wilting attack containing debutant Richard Jones. The pair rattled along at around four an over until, with the score on 155, they were parted. Montgomerie, having reached 82, chased a wide ball from Nadeem Malik and edged to keeper Steve Davies.

Nash then shared in a 62-run stand with Michael Yardy but, having reached a career-best 89, he was caught behind off Kabir Ali.

Yardy had passed 50 for only the fourth time in the Championship this season before miscuing a pull and Carl Hopkinson then became Jones' maiden Championship wicket.

Adams, though, knows they have to pile up runs for his depleted attack to bowl at. Sussex are without Saqlain Mushtaq (knee), Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (dislocated shoulder), James Kirtley and Luke Wright (England duty). Although they do, of course, have Pakistani leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed to call upon.