Wright rises to his challenge
Sussex 289 & 148-5 Lancashire 299
Friday 24 April 2009
James Anderson continued to be the best bowler on show here but Sussex's Luke Wright – a player with a more chequered recent England past – looked ready to fulfil his potential after his best first-class bowling performance.
Anderson took another two wickets to add to his six in the first innings but Wright kept this contest fascinatingly poised with 5 for 80, eclipsing his previous best of 3 for 33 four years ago.
The 24-year-old played in 14 one-day internationals last year but was left out of the squad for the recent series in West Indies. Memories of his England debut, when he clobbered a half-century against India in 2007, and the nerveless last over he bowled in Napier 14 months ago to secure an unexpected tie against New Zealand, had quickly faded.
In his last six ODIs of 2008 he faced just 15 balls and bowled a solitary over against Scotland. Suggestions that Wright owed his promotion to the former coach Peter Moores, who signed him for Sussex in 2003, never really went away.
Consistent county performances are his only way back into the England reckoning and after taking just 11 Championship wickets last season this maiden five-for was perfectly timed.
Wright has never lacked pace but has sometimes struggled for control. Yesterday a five-over opening spell containing four maidens and Steven Croft's wicket set the tone. When he returned to the attack late outswing proved too good for Luke Sutton, Gary Keedy and Sajid Mahmood.
"I found it hard coming back from England duty last year," admitted Wright. "I didn't really bowl or bat much in the South Africa series and when I came back to Sussex it almost felt like pre-season because all I'd had for three weeks was nets. But I had a good tour with England A and I've been told it's not a closed shop. If I'm playing well I have every chance of getting back in."
With Robin Martin-Jenkins ending Mark Chilton's innings in sight of a hundred Sussex restricted their first-innings deficit to 10 runs. Anderson was soon back in the swing as Chris Nash nibbled fatally at an outswinger and Mike Yardy played on. Gary Keedy picked up two wickets in three balls but confirmation that this was Wright's day came when he was dropped on 17 off Anderson. Sussex will need him to bat well today, especially after Ed Joyce became Keedy's third victim in the last over of the day.
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