Sussex making impressive early bid to join title race

In what is already shaping up to be an exciting and open County Championship race, promoted Sussex have staked their claim after back-to-back wins over champions Nottinghamshire and pre-season favourites Somerset.

They completed an eight-wicket win over Somerset at Hove in a fascinating contest on a sporting pitch which produced three ignominious batting collapses and then a stand of 201, between Sussex’s in-form openers Chris Nash and Ed Joyce, which ultimately settled the contest.

Nash, having passed 50 six times already this season, finally went on to score 120, the tenth hundred of his career. He has 656 Championship runs from six games, five more than his partner with whom he has now lodged six stands of 100 or more this summer.

Sussex’s form – they have also beaten new leaders Durham – represents an excellent turnaround after they were thrashed by an innings in their opening game against Lancashire. And their three wins is one more than they managed in both their last two seasons in the top flight in 2008 and 2009, which ended with relegation.

Sussex coach Mark Robinson said: “I’d have bitten your hand off for three wins out of six after we lost by an innings at Liverpool.

“I know we are not the finished article. We are still a work in progress but we know a lot more about some of the new players in the side like Luke Wells and Amjad Khan.

“We know we need a few more runs from the batting line-up but in their defence they are not getting much of a go to be fair,  because Nash and Joyce are hogging it!”

Just as impressive as the openers have been Sussex seamers. There cannot be many quicker bowlers on the circuit this season than Jimmy Anyon, whose 21 wickets is only five fewer than the number he took in the entire second division campaign in 2010, while the enduring Rana Naved sunk Somerset with the second ten-wicket haul of his Sussex career.

Robinson added: “Jimmy is our sledgehammer. He has always had a yard of pace but he sort of denied what he was last season. He wanted to be other things, but he is a fast bowler.

“He has great attributes to be quick and as his belief has grown and he’s stopped listening to that negative man on his shoulder as much. You can now see the rewards.

“He is a good foil for a skilful, wily competitor like Rana who loves it here and really responds to his team-mates and the Sussex public.”

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