Sussex v Nottinghamshire, Hove, 1st day May 25, 2012

Nash prospers but Nottinghamshire hit back

Sahil Dutta at Hove

Sussex 305 for 9 (Nash 128, Wright 81, Patel 3-66) v Nottinghamshire

First impressions proved deceptive at Hove. A hot, cloudless day at on a ground where runs normally come in bulk suggested hours of hard toil for the bowlers. And when Ben Phillips' first over disappeared for 10 it looked as though Michael Yardy had struck gold by winning the toss and batting first.

Yet despite an accomplished 128 for Chris Nash and Luke Wright's sparky 81 on his return to first-class cricket, it was Nottinghamshire who enjoyed the better of the day as Sussex slipped to 305 for 9.

Having battled through early season murk day a like this felt like the batsmen's time to cash in. Instead too many of Sussex's contrived in their own downfall out to give Nottinghamshire the edge.

First the top-order slumped to 97 for 4 and then, having fought back to 242 for 4 on the back of Nash and Wright's 145-run partnership, Sussex lost three wickets for 15 runs.

The profligate tone was set by Ed Joyce. After an early boundary he sliced a flat-footed waft straight to Riki Wessels at point to fall for 5. Joe Gatting followed by chipping Samit Patel to the sweeper on the cover boundary for 19 and, first ball after lunch, Yardy ran himself out attempting an unlikely second to fine leg. It was generous stuff.

Nash, though, anchored Sussex. After 84 and 98 in his previous match against Worcestershire, Nash this time completed a fine century. There was little flourish, just upright drives, sturdy pulls and good judgement throughout. It wasn't, however, without luck. Adam Voges dropped him twice at second slip. The first was a simple chance when Nash was on 25. Voges had two grabs at it, parrying it to Alex Hales at first slip, who also failed to hold on. The second was a much tougher one-handed effort with Nash on 82. Given the fortune it was fitting that Nash reached his hundred by skewing an outside edge through third-man.

Wright was a century-maker the previous evening in the CB40 but he hadn't played a first-class game since the end of June last year. He made a hundred then, too, but since suffered a variety of mishaps. Knee injury, tonsillitis, suspected dengue-fever around a stint at the IPL had conspired to keep him sidelined but here he was back with his labrador-pup enthusiasm.

Offered room, his flashing hands sent the ball scurrying through the offside but he blended that familiar flourish with the sort of defence his Twenty20 exploits rarely demand. He did, however, have one huge dose of fortune when on 25. Andy Carter, on his return to the side, had sweated for a first wicket and almost had two in his seventh over. First Voges dropped Nash for the second time but then Carter nipped one back through the gate to clip the top of Wright's leg stump. Though batsman, bowler and crowd heard an unmistakeable clunk the bail refused to budge. Thereafter Wright progressed unruffled sharing the pivotal stand with Nash.

Wright's return to the side cast Luke Wells aside. Wells began the season with a century at The Oval and much fanfare followed. Since then, though, four innings have brought 47 runs. The man who was retained instead was Murray Goodwin. He has 39 runs from six matches this season and fell for 1 off Andre Adams.

While Nash and Wright were easing through the hazy afternoon, Nottinghamshire's bowlers began to tire. Harry Gurney had begun the evening with a succession of short balls but surprised Nash with one that scudded under the bat to pin back off stump.

It stirred the crowd out of a mid-afternoon slumber and the Nottinghamshire fielders too. Three overs later Wright whipped Patel to short midwicket where Adams held a smart chance. It was an unsatisfactory ending to an excellent innings. Patel was soon celebrating again when he got one to grip and kiss Ben Brown's outside edge. With the new ball looming 300 looked unlikely but the lower-order resisted and Navid Arif slashed to the point boundary to collect the third batting point as the shadows lengthened.