Sussex toil as Foster enhances reputation

Sussex 200 and 124-1 MCC 539-8 dec
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The Independent Online

James Foster furthered his case to be England's long-term successor to Alec Stewart by making his second first-class century on the third day of the MCC's curtain-raiser against the county champions, Sussex, here yesterday.

James Foster furthered his case to be England's long-term successor to Alec Stewart by making his second first-class century on the third day of the MCC's curtain-raiser against the county champions, Sussex, here yesterday.

The Essex wicketkeeper-batsman's career-best 110 not out augmented an already significant first-innings lead to the tune of 339 as MCC took complete control of the match before a teatime declaration when they had reached 539 for 8.

Sussex successfully negotiated 32 overs to stumps to reach 124 for the loss of only Ian Ward, Richard Montgomerie remaining unbeaten on 49. It seems this reinstated fixture is destined to finish in a draw today.

The result was always likely to be of secondary importance to the enhancement or otherwise of personal reputations in an MCC side packed with England hopefuls. Among them, Ian Bell, who made 88 on Saturday, Alex Gidman (91) and Foster will have most reason to be pleased with themselves.

Foster already has seven Test and 11 one-day international caps to his name but has fallen down the pecking order over the past 12 months as massed ranks of aspiring talent compete to replace Stewart, who retired at the end of last summer. But while Geraint Jones and Chris Read slug it out in the Caribbean, the start of the domestic season gives the likes of Foster and Sussex's Tim Ambrose and Matthew Prior a chance to restate their claim - albeit on a smaller stage.

Foster did himself no harm yesterday with a painstaking hundred, hastened latterly by three fours in four balls off Mohammad Akram. The overnight pair of Foster and Gidman shared a sixth-wicket stand of 122 until the Gloucestershire youngster fell after lunch when he misread a Mushtaq Ahmed googly and was lbw pushing forward.

Foster ploughed on, however, in company with James Tredwell and then Adam Harrison, as MCC sought to demoralise the champions.

Foster reached his century off 205 deliveries and shut out Mushtaq et al in an eighth-wicket stand of 77 with Tredwell. The partnership only ended when Akram was recalled at the Pavilion End, inducing a mis-timed hook to mid-on from the Kent all-rounder.

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