Sussex 420 for 5 (Yardy 119, Montgomerie 82, Goodwin 99) v Nottinghamshire
Sussex's batsmen took a firm grip on the Championship trophy at Trent Bridge today as they finished the first day of their title decider on 420 for 5, claiming all four bonus points.
The day ended dramatically with Charlie Shreck bowling Murray Goodwin for 99 with the final ball but even this could not take the gloss off Sussex's performance.
They had recovered from a difficult start - Richard Montgomerie and Michael Yardy putting on 144 for the second wicket after Carl Hopkinson had run himself out in the third over. As it transpired, Hopkinson was the only Sussex batsman to miss out, with Yardy continuing his fine summer in scoring 119 and Goodwin, Montgomerie and Chris Adams also scoring fifties.
Yardy's was a fine innings, full of character, after a scratchy start when he edged a couple of balls through the close cordon and could have been run out. He gained another reprieve when Stephen Fleming put him down at slip off Andrew Harris and damaged his little finger in the process, resulting in a trip to hospital for the Notts captain. This incident epitomized Notts' performance in the field, with missed opportunities allowing Sussex to speed towards 400.
Notts missed their captain badly, and their bowling became more ragged as the day went on. Even Ryan Sidebottom, the one bowler to emerge with credit, seemed pedestrian by the end, conceding four fours to Matthew Prior in one late over.
Richard Montgomerie had scored a fine 82 to anchor the innings, and after he was out to Harris, Yardy and Goodwin continued the good work in a partnership of 110. Yardy had begun to accelerate, looking every inch an England player as he feasted on a series of loose balls to move quickly through the nineties to his ton, before he was lbw playing across the line to the spin of Samit Patel.
Goodwin, whose effort was doubly commendable as he was batting with an injured hand, was then joined by the captain Chris Adams. They moved rapidly towards the 400-mark before Adams clipped an innocuous Shreck delivery with the second new ball straight to midwicket. Adams was visibly annoyed with himself after a 91-ball 72, but he had done his job, guiding his side to within touching distance of the title.
With Lancashire 333 for 7 at The Rose Bowl and in danger of dropping vital bonus points, Sussex can really turn the screw tomorrow, and with Matt Prior looking in ominous touch and Robin Martin-Jenkins to come they are well set to push on to 500 before letting Mushtaq off the leash.