The last month has been one of emotional contrasts for Robin Martin-Jenkins. Awarded a benefit for 2008 after helping turn Sussex into the team of the decade, the 31-year-old all-rounder has also learned that being held in high esteem is no proof against being dropped.
He discovered as much last month when Chris Adams wanted both his spinners, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq, to play against Warwickshire and decided Martin-Jenkins was the man who had to give way.
The shock of omission appears to have had a galvanising effect. Short of runs before he was left out, he chipped in with 49 in last week's defeat of Yorkshire and followed up with a potentially vital unbeaten 77 yesterday. It enabled the champions, once 149 for 5 after Durham had put them in on a seaming pitch, to build what they hope will prove a decent first innings, though Durham have built a strong platform in reply.
However, with Mushtaq lurking, Durham will not rest easily yet, even after a second first-class half-century from 20-year-old Mark Stoneman helped them to 115 for 1.
Chris Nash's 49 was the first significant innings for Sussex during a difficult morning that saw Michael Yardy caught at gully without scoring as Ottis Gibson struck in consecutive overs after trapping Richard Montgomerie leg before.
Nash fell to the first ball after lunch as Graham Onions launched a fine spell that yielded three wickets in five overs, including Adams, who edged his seventh ball faced to first slip.
Murray Goodwin hit a dogged 66 off 125 balls, but it was the bold strokeplay from Martin-Jenkins, racing to 50 from 36 deliveries, that enabled Sussex to fight back.Reuse content