Kirby sent to hospital as Sussex take lead
Sussex 171 and 174 for 2 (Nash 82*, Adams 16*) lead MCC 205 by 140 runs
Chris Nash struck a fine 82 to put Sussex into the lead and in control of the match on the second day at Lord's, as MCC's bowlers laboured on a pitch that, in spite of the 14 wickets which fell yesterday, has begun to flatten. More to the point, it was the absence of Steve Kirby which most hurt MCC, after he was sent to hospital being hit on the head by a Luke Wright bouncer. He passed out twice - once in the middle and again in the dressing room - before being taken away for tests.
More than any other batsman in the match, with the exception of Owais Shah, Nash has looked at ease on this surface, counterattacking with a wide array of strokes all around the wicket. At tea today, he had raced to 45 from almost as many balls, treating all MCC's bowlers with disdain. Admittedly, this brand of attacking batsmanship - on a surface which has been so kind to bowlers - is fraught with risk. But fortune favours such decisiveness, and it was a relief to at last see the Champions playing with authority.
Graham Onions and Charlie Shreck struggled with their length and Nash set the tone with the day's most sweetly timed boundary, clipping through midwicket. He followed it up with two punchily driven forcing strokes off the back foot off Onions, whose length was still too short, and his 50 partnership with Hopkinson was brought up in just the tenth over. Hopkinson looked far more settled than yesterday, driving the wayward Shreck through extra cover for a boundary which would have had a larger crowd swooning with approval.
After tea, Nash was tied down by the two spinners, Adil Rashid and James Tredwell. James Whitaker, one of the England selectors, was spotted around Lord's this afternoon just as Rashid was tossed the ball for his first spell in the match. He ought to have had Nash caught first ball when he edged a teasing legbreak straight to first slip, but he was caught snoozing on his ankles. Rashid rarely threatened thereafter in his 12 overs, but neither did he let Sussex get away like a train. For a 20-year-old legspinner, his control was subcontinentally impressive.
Michael Yardy joined Nash and was threatening to dominate, creaming three boundaries in eight balls. One biffed straight down the ground; the other pulled over midwicket; a third, off Ravi Bopara, elegantly creamed through extra cover. But like Nash, Yardy's exuberance was hauled in by MCC's spinners, and he was out-thought by Shreck who bowled him with a vicious incutter for 43.
Sussex's bold strokeplay before tea was in response to a slender but not ignorable lead of 34 which MCC plodded towards in a gruelling morning session. That the hosts even managed to scrape ahead was almost entirely thanks to Arun Harinath, the young Surrey left-hander. His battling 34 may not have swelled the interest of the hardy fans, but its value was without question - particularly following the early dismissal of Shah. Having grafted his way to 72 Shah fell in the second over of the day to Wright when he top-edged to Ryan Harris at mid-on.
Wright was hugely impressive from the Pavilion End. There were glowing reports of his pace when Sussex played in Abu Dhabi recently, and here he generated plenty of zip and prodigious lift off a length from a relatively short run-up. Kirby bears a painful testament to Wright's venom after he took his blow to the side of the head ducking into a sharp bouncer, and will remain in hospital overnight with suspected concussion.
Robin Martin-Jenkins was less vicious, but improved upon his inconsistent display yesterday evening with an economical spell from the Nursery End. Harinath was content to leave anything wide of the off stump, and the statistics of his innings bear testament to his ability to do just that. However, when Martin-Jenkins did find his natural back-of-the-length line he caused problems. James Foster hung around for half-an-hour without ever looking comfortable and was smartly held by Carl Hopkinson at third slip to hand Martin-Jenkins his 300th first-class wicket.
Harinath showed exemplary concentration, if lacking the range of strokes which he will no doubt develop. Only 21 and playing in his fourth first-class match, he coped well with Wright's pace and swing while nudging and nurdling singles, in particular through midwicket. A languid cover drive off Martin-Jenkins also hinted at a certain class itching to escape. His 138-ball vigil finally came to an end shortly before lunch when he padded up to Will Beer, the young legspinner, to hand him his maiden first-class wicket on debut.
For all Harinath's promise, however, MCC should not have relied so heavily on him to scratch such a lead, and Sussex go into day three with the match in control.
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo