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9th April 2023 Match Reports

Durham slip to 2 wicket defeat in season opener at Hove

Day 4 Sussex 335 all out & 232/8 beat Durham 376 all out & 189 all out by 2 wickets 

Durham slipped two a 2 wicket defeat in their opening match in the LV= Insurance County Championship after Ollie Carter’s unbeaten 33 guided the hosts to a narrow victory.

The 21-year-old wicketkeeper-batter hit the winning runs when he pulled Brydon Carse for the second of two fours in an over, having supervised what was at times a nervy run chase.

Sussex began the final day at the 1st Central County Ground on 172 for five and requiring a further 59 runs and things initially went smoothly on a Hove pitch showing little sign of deterioration.

Carter and nightwatchman Sean Hunt added 29 with Hunt taking boundaries in successive overs off Matthew Potts to ease the nerves.

Potts was replaced by left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann after bowling just two overs but it was Carse, during a fine six-over spell, who made the breakthrough when he angled the ball across Hunt and wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson dived in front of slip to take a fine catch.

Durham sensed an opportunity and Kuhnemann took two wickets in four overs from the sea end to make them favourites, although neither of his victims – Fynn Hudson-Prentice or Nathan McAndrew – will be rushing to see replays of their dismissals.

Hudson-Prentice (6) got a top-edge sweeping and was caught at short fine leg and McAndrew, tied down by the accuracy of his compatriot, was stumped after coming down the pitch aiming to heave Kuhnemann over long on.

Sussex were suddenly 208 for eight and still 23 short of their target, Durham having taken three for 15 in 11 overs.

But Carter found a reliable partner in Jack Carson, and they were helped when Kuhnemann fired two balls down the leg side in successive overs which were missed by Robinson and went for a total of seven wides.

Durham brought back Carse in a final throw of the dice but Carter pulled his third and fifth deliveries through square to the boundary before being embraced by his partner.

Sussex have only won once in each of their last three Championship campaigns so this will do wonders for their confidence, while Durham, who had a first-innings lead of 41, will reflect that poor second-innings batting cost them victory.

Day 3 Durham 376 & 189 , Sussex 335 & 172/5  trail by 59 runs 

The dramatic dismissal of Cheteshwar Pujara for 35, with the clock ticking towards 7pm and with under five overs remaining in the day, left Sussex’s LV= Insurance County Championship match against Durham hanging in the balance going into the final day.

Pujara was superbly caught by a leaping Michael Jones at mid wicket, pulling at Ben Raine’s medium pace, and at stumps Sussex were a suddenly nervy 172 for 5 – still 59 runs away from their victory target of 231.

Tom Haines, Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Henry Crocombe had earlier been the central figures for Sussex as they surged towards an opening Division Two win after dominating Durham with both ball and bat on an absorbing third day at the 1st Central Ground, Hove.

Sussex bowled Durham out for 189 in their second innings, with 21-year-old Crocombe claiming a career-best 4 for 47 and all-rounder Hudson-Prentice taking 4 for 27, his best figures for Sussex, before opener Haines led the way in the victory chase with 64 from 69 balls.

Hudson-Prentice, meanwhile, was only playing after being drafted in overnight as a concussion substitute for George Garton, who had top-edged a ball into his helmet while batting on day two and was withdrawn from the game as a precaution.

The day’s events, overall, still threaten to complete a stunning turn-around in a match that began on Thursday with Durham racing to 142 for no wicket after being put into bat and ultimately reaching 352 for 7 by stumps from the 70 overs possible following a morning lost to rain.

But Sussex, under new four-day captain Pujara, fought their way back tigerishly into the game – not least through Pujara’s own first innings 115 – and Haines’ assured strokeplay in late afternoon sunshine put pitch conditions into perspective despite the 16 wickets that fell on day three.

Durham’s third innings collapse came against impressively self-disciplined bowling from Sussex’s four seamers, but was perhaps also a result of uncertainty in how to build on their modest halfway lead. Only Ollie Robinson from Durham’s top order, including three sixes in a 92-ball 58, seemed clear in his method as he successfully balanced aggression with a secure defensive technique.

Haines hit ten fours in a sparkling knock, plus a disdainful lofted straight six from down the pitch against Australian Test left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann.

Kuhnemann, though, broke a 77-run second wicket stand by having Tom Alsop caught at slip off a top-edged reverse-paddle for 29 and later had Tom Clark lbw for 22 just before Pujara’s dismissal by Raine after the Indian Test star seemed to be guiding Sussex home after Haines had top-edged a pull at Brydon Carse.

That was from Carse’s second ball of his second spell, and the big fast bowler had struck too with his very first delivery, 79 runs earlier, when Ali Orr obligingly flipped a short one to long leg on 11.

Sussex’s last wicket pair added just three more runs at the start of the day before their first innings ended at 335, a deficit of 41. But Nathan McAndrew, who took 5 for 85 in Durham’s first innings, was rightly given the new ball second time around and set the tone beautifully for what was to come with a testing and accurate opening burst of 6-3-7-0 in which he could easily have had a couple of wickets.

Left-armer Sean Hunt, also finding good rhythm up the slope from the Sea End, made the initial breakthrough when Jones’ unconvincing 30-ball stay ended with a nick through to keeper Oli Carter on 4, but Durham’s slide really began when Crocombe came into the attack.

Alex Lees shaped to drive Crocombe’s third delivery, from around the wicket, inside-edging behind on 17 as he realised the ball was not quite there for the shot and, at the start of his next over, Crocombe induced a leaden-footed Ben McKinney (4) to edge weakly to Carter.

And 42 for 3 soon became 63 for 5 when David Bedingham, having moved fluently to 15, drove at a Hudson-Prentice leg-cutter and was well-held chest-high by Alsop at first slip, going to his left, while Graham Clark (1) was caught by Carter after poking at the first ball of Crocombe’s fifth over.

McAndrew, re-introduced for the final over of the morning, continued his second spell following the interval and pinned Jonathan Bushnell leg-before for 16 soon after Robinson had pulled him powerfully into the pavilion for the first of his sixes.

The best partnership of the innings then saw Robinson and Carse add 71 in 16 overs for the seventh wicket, with keeper-batsman Robinson impressing as he off-drove McAndrew for four and then hooking and pulling Crocombe for two more sixes when the right-armer was given a stint down the Hove slope.

Carse also produced some excellent strokes and Robinson had not long gone to his half-century with a cover-driven four off Jack Carson’s off spin when he slumped down on his haunches aghast after steering Hudson-Prentice off the face of the bat to gully where Clark took a sharp chance with aplomb.

Hudson-Prentice then had Carse taken behind – Carter’s fifth catch – for 36 and although Raine hit three fours in one Carson over in a bright unbeaten 21 the innings was quickly wrapped up as Matt Potts lifted Hudson-Prentice to mid off on 4 and last man Kuhnemann departed for a duck, limply steering Crocombe to gully.

Day 2 Durham 376, Sussex 332/9

The peerless Cheteshwar Pujara produced another batting masterclass as he reeled off his sixth hundred in only his ninth game for Sussex to frustrate Durham at the 1st Central County Ground.

The 35-year-old Indian, who has taken over as captain at Hove this season, dominated Sussex’s reply to Durham’s 376 with 115, the next highest score Ollie Carter’s 41. Last season Pujara scored 1094 runs at an average of 109 and on this evidence it will be a surprise if he doesn’t do even better in 2023.

When Carter helped him add 112 in 32 overs either side of tea for the fifth wicket, Sussex were in a good position to get close to Durham’s first-innings score.

But Pujara was one of three batters to fall at the start of the final session before Nathan McAndrew, who had earlier picked up five wickets on debut, organised some spirited resistance by Sussex’s lower order and was undefeated on 36 as Sussex reached 332 for nine at stumps, trailing by 44.

Pujara had come to the crease after Sussex lost both their openers in the tenth over. The day after his 22nd birthday, Ali Orr was run out backing up too far when Ben Raine deflected Tom Haines’ straight drive onto the stumps. The same fate had befallen the unfortunate Orr in his final innings of last season against Glamorgan when he was out for 198.

Two balls later Raine found enough away movement to defeat Haines’ forward push and after Pujara and his vice-captain Tom Alsop had taken the total to 86 Sussex suffered further strife as Alsop (10) and Tom Clark (4) both played on to leave Sussex 91 for four.

But once the new ball lost its hardness a crowd of nearly 2,000 were able to enjoy the Spring sunshine – and the sight of Pujara elegantly moving through the gears. A force through the back foot off Raine took him to his fifty and there was never much doubt that he would convert it into a century as he punished anything loose and collected runs all around the wicket.

His century came in some style too as he took three boundaries in four balls off Brydon Carse, audaciously upper-cutting a short ball over the slips followed by an on drive down the ground and a trademark back-foot punch to the point boundary.

Carter gave him excellent support until he took a couple of strides down the wicket trying to hit Matt Kuhnemann, the Australian left-arm spinner, over the top and got a thick edge instead.

Debutant Kuhnemann picked up his second wicket when George Garton (28) holed out trying to clear the deep mid-wicket boundary before Raine returned to the attack and struck the key blow with his second ball back when Pujara made his only misjudgement of the innings, playing across a straight ball to fall lbw. He struck 14 fours and straight six of Kuhnemann.

Sussex still trailed by 131 with the tail exposed but McAndrew and Jack Carson showed their capabilities in a counter-attacking stand of 55 in 12 overs before Carson (29) lost his off stump to Carse on the drive. McAndrew has so far helped the last four wickets add 87.

It completed an excellent day for the 29-year-old Australian, who earlier became the first Sussex overseas bowler since compatriot Steve Magoffin in 2016 to take five wickets in an innings. McAndrew, 29, had Raine caught at second slip with the second ball of the day and finished with five for 83 when Potts was last man out, caught behind driving. It was a good fightback by the Sussex bowlers to restrict Durham to 376 after they had been 224 for two on the first day.

Day 1 Durham 352/7

New Durham Head coach Ryan Campbell has pledged that his Durham team would adopt a front-foot approach in the LV= Insurance County Championship and there was early evidence of their intent against Sussex.

On a placid pitch at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove, they rattled along at five throughout an absorbing after being put into bat, closing on 352 for 7 from 70 overs.

Michael Jones (87) and Alex Lees (79) laid the foundations with 142 for the first wicket when play began at 1.30pm after morning rain.

And although Sussex fought back with seven wickets after tea, Durham maintained their aggressive approach, not least when Ollie Robinson, on his debut following his winter move from Kent, and Graham Clark smashed 61 in eight overs for the fifth wicket.

How Sussex could have done with their own Ollie Robinson leading the attack. Instead, Sean Hunt and Henry Crocombe, who took 33 wickets between them last season, shared the new ball and neither they or the other four bowlers new captain Cheteshwar Pujara had employed by the 22nd over could make much headway against Lees and Jones.

Lees may realise that his only way back into the England Test team will be through a more aggressive approach and he needed just 55 balls to bring up his half-century with a pull off Crocombe that brought him a ninth boundary. Jones was a bit more cautious, taking 90 balls for his fifty.

So it was a surprise when left-armer George Garton, in his first Championship appearance since last May, found a gap between bat and pad to bowl Lees for 79 in the 29th over. There was little respite for the Sussex attack though, as 6ft 7in Championship debutant Ben McKinney shaped up well. The 18-year-old left-hander, who captained England under-19s during the winter, found the boundary with his first three scoring shots before hoisting Hunt over long-on for six to bring up the 200 in the 40th over.

McKinney (35) was foxed by Crocombe’s slower ball which he drove to mid-off and Durham lost their third wicket when David Bedingham was beaten by a lovely away-swinger from Australian Nathan McAndrew, who was making his Sussex debut.

Jones had provided the ballast in the innings until he mis-timed a pull off Crocombe and spliced a catch to Jack Carson, running round from mid-wicket, having hit 14 fours in a shade under four hours.

Sussex tails were up, but Robinson and Graham Clark counter-attacked with some eye-catching blows. Clark got off the mark by hooking Garton for six before depositing him onto the pavilion roof two balls later. Robinson upper-cut Crocombe for six in the next over before Clark took two more sixes off Garton in his next over.

Garton, still finding his way back with the red ball after two injury-ravaged seasons, was withdrawn and it proved a shrewd move by Pujara. Off-spinner Carson did not get a lot of turn, but he did offer control and broke the stand with a low return catch off Robinson’s firmly-struck on drive.

No one epitomised Durham’s approach more than Clark, who hit six sixes in his 47 before McAndrew, Sussex’s most effective seamer, returned down the slope and found enough late inswing to pin him lbw and then had Jonathan Bushnell caught on the boundary to claim his third wicket.

Even Brydon Carse, who has only hit ten sixes in his first-class career, cleared the ropes before close, one of ten sixes in the innings so far.

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