Sussex centurions punish Middlesex for decision to field


Lords and the Sussex batsmen basked in the London sunshine

Sussex 328-4

Tom Alsop and Cheteshwar Pujara dominated the day at Lords as they scored divergent but superb centuries. Alsop was dismissed late on for 135 but Pujara was still unbeaten overnight with 115*, as they made Middlesex look foolish for an early decision.

On the hottest day in record, Middlesex won the toss and shocked many by electing to field.

Those in the know said the pitch was grassy and would help the seamers. This looked to be untrue from almost the start. Ali Orr fell LBW to Tim Murtagh for 7 with the score on 18. but that early loss of was far from a portent of things to come.

Tom Alsop made a slow but smooth 50 and Tom Clark looked useful for his 33 until Sam Robson made a brilliant catch to dismiss him, caught off a shot that probably deserved better than a dismissal.

That only brought Pujara to the crease and he found the going easy against all the seamers Tom Helm, Umesh Yadav, Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh. Luke Hollman was also given an outing from the Nursery End to tempt a mistake out of Alsop or Pujara with his leg spin.

He didn’t.

“What did you do on Londons’s hottest ever day Grandad?”

“Why lad, I made a century at Lords!”

In a lucrative middle session, Sussex added 143-1 to their lunctime score of 68-1, which set Alsop and Pujara up for a real third session push. Tom Alsop reached a wonderful ton (221 balls 295 minutes) and continued to garner singles, which were mostly walked in what was becoming an embarassment for the home side. Eventually Pujara joined him as a centurion reqiuring just 144 balls and 192 minutes.

Two very late wickets however put a small gloss on the Middlesex day.

Alsop finally succumbed on 135, caught by wicketkeeper Simpson off Helm, who then nabbed nightwatchman Lenham, caught by Sam Robson at slip. Helm finished with 3-63, comfortably the best figures of any bowler.

Umesh Yadav finished with 0-42, bringing his season numbers since his late arrival to 2-112 off 41 overs, prompting further discussion about wisdom of the signing.

But it wasn’t all gloom and doom for 34-year-old Indians.  Pujara’s current season average is now 125.86 and there were few indications that he is not about to bolster that on Day 2.

Middlesex Cricket

Sussex Cricket

Annie Chave – Cricket Columnist

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