Hopkinson and Goodwin fall short
Sussex 318 for 5 (Hopkinson 97, Goodwin 98, Prior 16*, Kirtley 2*) v Surrey
Carl Hopkinson and Murray Goodwin both fell short of hundreds, but Sussex nevertheless made Surrey's bowlers toil in the Hove sunshine to reach 318 for 5 at stumps on the second day.
It was not exhilarating cricket by any means, in a match now reduced to three days after yesterday's washout, but Surrey's bowlers disappointed. In addition, their fielding lacked spark and accuracy; Usman Afzaal let through two very stoppable singles at cover and, for all his rich talent with the bat, remains an amusingly inept fielder. It is not a flaw that either Butcher - captain Mark or coach Alan - will accept, either.
Hopkinson and Chris Nash began confidently, however, with Nash continuing his promising early-season form in an aggressive 46. Nash was off the mark with a sweetly timed on-drive off Jimmy Ormond, who today celebrated a renewal of his contract with Surrey. Ormond was reasonably tight, conceding 19 from his opening six overs and twice troubling Nash whose confidence threatened to overspill. Hopkinson, meanwhile, was more circumspect than his partner, but showed the straightest of bats to a half volley from Chris Jordan that sped through mid-on for four.
Nash, who like Hopkinson has yet to reach three figures in his career, was stuck on 46 for nearly half-an-hour and his patience wore thin when he pulled a full delivery from Pedro Collins onto his stumps, ending an encouraging opening stand of 87. After the interval, Hopkinson began to free his arms but was fortunate not to lose his leg stump when he inside-edged Ormond for four. It was a rare lapse in concentration, as was Michael Yardy's unconvincing sweep to Saqlain Mushtaq which flew to Butcher at slip. The pitch remained flat, the weather fair, but Surrey were just about hanging onto Sussex's coat tails.
Until, that is, Goodwin and Hopkinson combined in an afternoon of run-making. Hopkinson appears to revel in having a fluent partner at the other end, someone to keep the runs flowing while he grinds the bowlers down, and the recipe worked beautifully for Sussex in a third-wicket stand of 129. Jordan, in particular, fed Goodwin's hunger for the fierce cut. Of Sussex's top six, Chris Adams might scythe it with greater authority, but few can match Goodwin's grace. A back-cut down to third man off Collins almost had the elderly members rising as one.
Afzaal's fumbling awkwardness in the covers threatened to encapsulate Surrey's day in the field, with Goodwin and Hopkinson taking the score up to 246, but he was surprisingly tossed the ball by Butcher and the shock-tactic worked. Hopkinson, his concentration wavering, smacked a full-toss straight back into the slippery hands of Afzaal who held on comfortably.
Goodwin, though, continued to drive with supreme timing through extra cover, cutting confidently when the length was too short, and a hundred appeared to be his for the taking. However, no Sussex batsman was to reach three figures and on 98, Goodwin feathered Matt Nicholson, returning for a final burst from the Sea End, to the wicketkeeper. Sussex might be dismayed in losing two batsmen in the nineties, but they remain in control of a match destined to be drawn after the first day's washout.
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo