Wright century leads fightback
Sussex 413 for 9 v Middlesex
Luke Wright hit the last ball of the day from Steven Finn for six to reach his first hundred of the season in spectacular style after leading a lower-order fightback by Sussex on the first day of their County Championship game against Middlesex. Wright has so far helped add 92 for the last two wickets for the second division leaders, who recovered after losing four wickets for 17 runs to reach 413 for nine at stumps after being put in on a green-tinged pitch which offered a vivid contrast to the parched Uxbridge outfield.
The England one-day allrounder was on 69 when last man Corey Collymore joined him four overs before stumps but Wright went into overdrive, hitting Finn back over his head for the first of three sixes, the second having coming off Shaun Udal. He also struck ten fours and has so far faced 96 balls for the eighth first-class hundred of his career.
It completed a chastening day for England's new fast-bowling prospect Finn, who was earlier upstaged by a bowler in only his third first-class match. Toby Roland-Jones, a 22-year-old seamer from nearby Ashford, took 4 for 82 including three scalps in three overs as Sussex collapsed during the afternoon session.
Roland-Jones bowled Matt Prior with a nip-backer, had Michael Thornely caught at slip by Andrew Strauss off a flat-footed waft and knocked back Ollie Rayner's off stump for a first-ball duck to add to his earlier success when opener Chris Nash top-edged a pull. Finn had sparked the collapse when he had Murray Goodwin caught at long leg for 80 to a well-judged catch by Roland-Jones as Sussex slumped from 259 for 3 to 276 for 7.
Finn has only bowled two competitive overs, in a Twenty20 match a fortnight ago, since the end of the Bangladesh Test series at the start of June as he underwent a strength and conditioning programme designed with the Ashes in mind this winter. The 6ft 8in quick bowled tidily in six spells totalling 27 overs but Middlesex failed to take advantage of winning the toss.
Sussex lost skipper Mike Yardy, one of 13 past or present internationals taking part, to Iain O'Brien's inswinger in the second over but Ed Joyce figured in two big stands against his old county as the visitors seized the initiative.
After adding 75 in 16 overs with Nash, the Irish left-hander put on a further 113 in 23 with Goodwin either side of lunch as the pitch lost its venom and batsmen got full value for their strokes across a quick outfield.
Joyce had made a season's-best 83, from 126 balls with 14 fours, when he flicked airily to square leg to give O'Brien his second wicket, having reached 10,000 first-class runs upon reaching 46.
Goodwin and Matt Prior maintained Sussex's brisk tempo with a partnership of 65 in 12 overs for the fourth wicket. Goodwin, punishing anything short on both sides of the wicket, struck 13 fours in his 80 off 102 balls as he passed 20,000 runs in first-class cricket.