Nash lands on his feet in middle order
Sussex 342 for 7 (Nash 118, Wells 85, Jordan 57*) v Worcestershire
After all the fun of the fair that Twenty20 brings, Championship cricket returned, like the sensible soul at the house party who starts washing up at 4am, having rolled the last revellers into their cabs home. If there is one man who still had his wits about him after a month on the short-form sauce, it was Chris Nash who waited till the start of August to score his first Championship hundred of the season.
Invariably, as the white ball makes way for the red, there is talk of "Twenty20 hangovers": of batsmen and bowlers stuck in limited-overs mode, chastised for not being able to flick a switch from one format to the other, like the droids they are treated as. How else to explain the absurd run-in both sides have had to this fixture.
Worcestershire arrived off the back of a professional Friday night win in Birmingham and a day-time shellacking at the hands of Northants on Saturday. Sussex were hosting Surrey on Thursday before a Friday night in Canterbury. Silly season doesn't get much sillier.
Yet, through all the hours on the road, as those at home turn slowly into strangers, Nash has been able to find form that has proved elusive for most of the summer. After a rest last Monday following defeat to Somerset, he struck 64 on Thursday, took Kent to the cleaners with 73 on Friday, arrived in Worcester on Saturday and compiled his 23rd first-class hundred on Sunday. While it does not bear much resemblance to Craig David's "Seven Days" - Craig famously chilled on Sunday - there was a familiar rhythm and base to Nash's innings that hinted at a longer return to fluid type.
"I've seen more of you than I have of my wife," said Nash as he was approached by the BBC Radio Sussex commentator, alluding to the frenetic schedule and his more-than-welcome purple patch. Prior to this 118, Nash was averaging 17.08 from 12 innings at the top of the order. Naturally, the knock came as a relief: "It's a really nice feeling. I've worked really hard in four-day cricket and it just hasn't happened this year. That's how it goes sometimes.
"It's hard coming from T20 games where you're basically playing every day. It's nice to come in here and bat long as well, actually. It was nice to change the gears, get myself in and go big."
The crucial part of his 202-ball stay came in the morning when Nash was informed by Sussex captain Ben Brown that he would bat at five, having spent most of the season as opener. Former Leicestershire batsman Angus Robson, taken on by Sussex to play second-team cricket, was asked to open up on his first-team debut, after his registration was processed on Thursday (he made the XI in place of Luke Wright, out with a bad back).
Unfortunately for Robson, he only lasted three balls - one of two ducks, along with Harry Finch, as Worcestershire reduced the visitors to 7 for 2 in the fourth over. Nash's arrival, after Stiaan van Zyl fell to make it 49 for 3, was the beginning of a solid partnership of 97 between himself and Luke Wells.
Perhaps the moment that turned the day was at 71 for 3, when Daryl Mitchell dropped Wells at second slip. The left-hander had just 32 to his name and went on to make 85 before offering Mitchell another chance which he duly clung on to, off the bowling of George Rhodes. Wells' sombre exit spoke less of a tricky period negotiated and more of a hundred spurned. By then, Nash was at ease and determined to motor on for the good of his team and his future in the engine room.
At lunch, when Nash was on 19, his captain made him a promise: "If you get 110, you can stay at five." Who knows if Brown was bluffing, but it had the desired effect on the 34-year-old. The shots started to come out, notably that front-foot pull to midwicket and beyond which has been as much as a Hove staple as deckchairs and ice cream.
Fittingly, it was a crisply struck pull for four off debutant Pat Brown - expensive on his maiden first-class outing - that took Nash to his hundred, from 175 balls. Relieved, he threw both hands in the air, before holding out five fingers to the packed balcony in front of the away dressing room, channeling the spirit of Nasser Hussain at Lord's, albeit with a smile and fewer expletives. "When I got my hundred I knew I'd kinda done the hard bit and I had 10 more to get," Nash said. He eventually finished on 118, lbw to a low-bouncing delivery from Joe Leach, with Sussex in greater shakes at 298 for 6.
"After the month of Twenty20, I really needed it," Nash said of an innings he hopes will be the start of a strong end to the red-ball summer and a spot in the batting line-up he has always craved. "I got in this morning and I was pretty knackered after the last couple of weeks and it gave me a little bit of breathing space and I really enjoyed it. I love batting in the middle order."
Chris Jordan built on Nash's good work - together, they put on 118 - by moving to his 98-ball half-century with a picture-perfect extra cover-drive for his fifth boundary. He was unbeaten at the close, all set to continue Sussex's push towards a score of 350 which they reckon will have them "in the game". A game that already looks like it is slipping from Worcestershire's grasp.
Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo, the Guardian, All Out Cricket and Yahoo Sport