Surrey’s failure to contain and remove more Sussex batsmen could well thwart their victory ambitions now that this match has been reduced by the weather to a three-day game.
Sussex opener Carl Hopkinson, who made his First Class debut six years ago, but did not really establish himself in the side until 2006, moved steadily towards his maiden century, by the interval he had surpassed his previous highest score of 83 and was within touching distance of three figures.
Apart from getting his fifty – the 12th of his career to date – with a streaky inside edge for four, off the 137th ball of his innings bowled by Jimmy Ormond, the 26-year-old did not give the toiling Surrey attack a glimpse of a weakness.
His four hours at the crease were a study in concentration. He and Murray Goodwin had added 76 for the third wicket as Surrey went through half a dozen bowlers in an effort to part the pair.
Earlier Hopkinson had lost opening partner Chris Nash – another in the Sussex squad who has yet to score a first class hundred – with the stand just 13 runs away from the century mark, Nash playing on to be bowled by West Indies paceman Pedro Collins. Michael Yardy fell early in the afternoon session, caught at slip attempting to sweep Pakistani off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq.
The news was not good for Sussex’s own Mushtaq. Leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed underwent a knee operation yesterday to repair a torn cartilage and will be out for three weeks, although he is likely to miss only one other First Class match, the one against Somerset at Taunton in a fortnight.