Wessels enjoys his seaside outing
Nottinghamshire 320 for 4 (Wessels 184*) lead Sussex 309 by 11 runs
On sunny, summer weekends like this, Brighton is a favourite destination for pleasure-seeking tourists. Riki Wessels certainly enjoyed his seaside outing, making an unbeaten 184 and sharing a 171-run opening stand with Alex Hales as the visitors took a firm grip on proceedings at Hove.
With Warwickshire extending their lead at the top of Division One, Nottinghamshire did their best to stay in touch, easing to 320 for 4 and laying a platform for what they can only hope will be a significant victory.
Though the conditions were inviting, Wessels was outstanding after being promoted to open the innings. In a career that has so far promised more than it has delivered, Wessels' progress this year is timely. Despite a broken finger that kept him out for a month he has now made almost as many runs in three games as he managed in 10 last year. Compact and powerful he drove sweetly when the bowlers overpitched, pulled firmly when they were too short and stoutly defended everything else. Without ever seeming strained he ticked along at a healthy rate hitting 30 fours and two sixes in the day.
Alongside Hales the pair delivered Nottinghamshire's first century opening stand since Bilal Shafayat and Will Jefferson put on 157 on this ground four years ago. After struggling for runs, along with many others earlier in the season, Hales returned to form with a fifty in his last game against Middlesex and looked in good order again today. Batting with supine grace - he seems to move in slow motion - he was patient early on before easing through the gears on his way to his highest Championship score of the season. He'll face sprightlier attacks on spicier wickets but a strong summer from here will keep the England selectors interested.
After Samit Patel finished off the Sussex innings with his fourth wicket, Monty Panesar should have been Sussex's key man. Though he did finally remove Hales for 80, Panesar's extra pace on the ball yielded less turn that Patel. He was neither penetrating nor parsimonious as Wessel's in particular ensured he couldn't keep the runs down. Twice Wessels hit him for six, the second of which crashed over the scaffolding by the press centre down the ground to bring up Wessels' 150.
The evening session did bring some joy for Sussex but not enough. Michael Lumb battled for 87 balls for 23 before slicing a drive to gully and then Chris Nash became a surprising double wicket-taker. Despite success with the ball this season, Nash's entrance was delayed until the 76th over. He proved immediately what an oversight that was by removing Patel with his fifth delivery and James Taylor soon after. Nash extracted some alarming bounce at times which, given their position, probably pleased the visitors more than the home side.
Though his scoring rate dipped as the day drew to a close, Wessels was fit and hungry enough to ensure he remained unbeaten at the close and will hope tomorrow can being at least 16 more for his maiden first-class double-hundred.
The Hove crowd, missing the school groups of the day before, was a touch more lethargic but remained in good spirits. One punter took pity on Monty on the fine-leg boundary. With two overs to go he was offered a large glass of icy Pimm's. On a day when there wasn't much for him to cheer about, it brought a welcome smile to Panesar's face.