MCC v Sussex, Lord's, 3rd day April 15, 2007

Sussex suffer Yardy blow as MCC build lead

MCC 425 and 226 for 4 (Shah 87*, Sharif 44) lead Sussex 385 (Goodwin 134, Yardy 99 ret hurt, Harmison 3-52) by 266 runs

Michael Yardy played well to reach 99 before taking a painful blow from Steve Harmison © Getty Images
Sussex suffered a significant blow ahead of their County Championship defence with Michael Yardy picking up a broken finger after being struck by Steve Harmison at Lord's. He was forced to retire hurt on 99 as the match developed into an interesting contest following a collapse by the Sussex lower order.

MCC built on their 40-run lead through Owais Shah's neat innings and a third-wicket stand of 84 with Zoheb Sharif, the Cambridge UCCE batsman, who has been included as part of MCC's commitment to University cricket. With a lead of 266 there is the prospect, if Alastair Cook is feeling keen on making a game of it, of Sussex being set a chase sometime during the morning session on Monday.

But it was the earlier efforts of Harmison and Graham Onions, after a successful A tour of Bangladesh, which caught the eye, both putting in timely performances in front of England selector Geoff Miller. Harmison bowled with real pace and aggression, striking James Kirtley on the elbow before inflicting Yardy's more serious injury.

Running in from the Pavilion End, Harmison made a ball climb from short of a length, striking Yardy on the bottom hand, breaking his left index finger, as he tried to fend it away. It was immediately clear he was in serious pain and was soon off to hospital for x-rays. The full extent on the injury, and likely time out of the game, is not yet known and will depend on whether surgery is required. Sussex start the season as the team to beat but, with one of the smaller squads on the circuit, will be stretched if they suffered too many injury blows.

Sussex were 326 for 4 when Yardy left the field, with Matt Prior showing strong form after taking three fours off one Harmison over. However, Onions worked up a head of steam and shortly after felling Prior with a bouncer had him caught behind for 37, starting a collapse of 4 for 7. Onions trapped Andrew Hodd with a full swinging delivery and dispatched Ollie Rayner in similar style as his personal contribution stood at 3 for 4 in 13 balls.

In between Harmison added his third when Robin Martin-Jenkins was caught at long leg off a top-edged hook. After his three spells yesterday it was another useful workout for Harmison, who bowled 10 overs off the reel during the morning session. MCC's efforts to wrap up the innings were delayed as Chris Liddle swung hard in a 24-ball 26 before Adil Rashid bowled him with the last ball before lunch.

Liddle, though, continued an encouraging day with a strong 10-over spell of left-arm seam. He claimed both MCC openers, Nick Compton caught hooking and Cook trapped lbw. Shah took the chance of another bat on a placid surface, working his way to a 116-ball half-century with some typically wristy flicks and powerful drives. Sharif played neatly, clearly less nervous than his first innings, although did flirt with the slip cordon. Luke Wright gave him a testing time during a sharp round-the-wicket burst but it was Rayner's offspin that eventually trapped him. Shah ended 13 short of his first hundred for the summer; he'll have time for that in the morning.

Andrew McGlashan is staff writer of Cricinfo