Sussex opener Chris Nash admits the value of his marathon match-saving innings against Leicestershire might not be evident for a while yet.
Nash, who is 33 later this month, batted for more than seven hours and faced 315 balls – only 33 less than Sussex’s entire first innings – for his 144 at Hove which helped his side escape with a draw after they had trailed by 310 on first innings.
It was his second hundred of the season and further vindication of his decision to spend a few weeks during the winter working with former South Africa opener Gary Kirsten.
But as well as personal satisfaction, Nash hopes the determination shown by Sussex to save the gave can kick-start their promotion campaign in the Specsavers County Championship.
Favourites for an immediate return to Division One at the start of the season, they have drawn all three games so far and already early pacesetters Essex by 45 points.
Nash said: “If we had lost we would have really been on the back foot. When you are in trouble as a side you need your senior players to stand up so it was nice personally to nearly take it all the way. I was gutted when I got out because, even after so long at the crease, I still felt I had plenty of energy.”
In terms of the situation he faced, Nash has seldom batted better for his county. “I’ve played well before and made big scores but that was definitely one of the most significant innings I have played,” he added.
“To bat for that period of time against a Leicestershire side who kept coming at us hard was very gratifying.”
Sussex Head Coach Mark Davis hopes Sussex’ recovery on the last two days can kick-start their season, starting against Derbyshire at Derby on Sunday.
“I challenged the players to win the last two days against Leicestershire which we did, but we know we have to improve further. We need to build momentum and get confidence into the players.”
While his senior batsmen – Nash, Ed Joyce and Ross Taylor – are in good form others such as Matt Machan, Luke Wells and Ben Brown need to start turning good starts into sizeable contributions. They could soon come under pressure from younger batsmen such as Harry Finch, Phil Salt and Fynn Hudson-Prentice – who scored a hundred for the second team this week.
Luke Wright and Chris Jordan will still be missing at Derby this week. Davis won’t put a date for Wright’s return after wrist and back problems but he could be back at the end of the month when Sussex face Derbyshire in the return game at Hove, starting on May 28.
by BRUCE TALBOT
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