County championship: Nash leads the Sussex recovery against Worcs

Chris Nash hit a ton to defy Worcs / Picture by Phil Westlake
Chris Nash hit a ton to defy Worcs / Picture by Phil Westlake

Chris Nash rediscovered his form after a dismal season in the Specsavers County Championship as his century helped to revive Sussex on the opening day against Worcestershire at New Road.

Nash, who is in his benefit year at Hove, had previously mustered only 205 Championship runs during 2017 at an average of 17.08. Some encouraging performances in the NatWest T20 Blast were in sharp contrast to his contributions in the long format of the game. But the 34-year-old was back to his best as he rescued his County from a sticky position at 49-3 after they had elected to bat.

He shared in partnerships of 97 in 32 overs with Luke Wells (85) and 118 in 25 overs with Chris Jordan as Sussex closed on 342-7 off 96 overs. Nash brought up his first hundred of the season with a pull for four against paceman Pat Brown who was making his Championship debut. It came off 175 balls and contained 14 boundaries.

When Nash was eventually dismissed for 118 - lbw to home skipper Joe Leach in the second over with the second new ball - he had steered Sussex to within two runs of 300.

Nash said: "It was a really nice feeling to get that hundred because it is hard work coming from two T20 games where you play a completely different way. It was nice to bat long, change the gears and get myself in and go big so I was pretty happy."

Nash celebrated after reaching three figures and said: "I was trying to tell Browny (captain Ben Brown) that I want to bat five. I came in at lunch and he said 'if you get 110, you can stay at number five' so when I got the 100 I knew I had done most of the work towards that. It is a really nice feeling. I've worked hard in four-day cricket and it just hasn't happened this year. That's how it goes sometimes and it's nice to get through that.

"They told me this morning I was going to bat five. To be honest, after a month of T20, I really needed it. I got in this morning and was pretty knackered after a busy kind of couple of weeks of T20. It gave a bit of breathing space and I really enjoyed it. I really enjoy batting in the middle order."

Sussex's decision to bat first initially looked to have back-fired against their second placed opponents who were attempting to bounce back from a disappointing T20 Blast campaign. Angus Robson (0) was handed a debut by the visitors but lasted only three deliveries before being edging Joe Leach to keeper Ben Cox who pulled off a superb low catch in front of first slip.

It became 7-2 as Harry Finch also failed to trouble the scorers in nicking England Under-19 paceman Josh Tongue through to Cox. Ed Barnard's second delivery accounted for Stiaan van Zyl (24) and this time George Rhodes reacted sharply at first slip. But that led to the arrival in the middle of Nash who joined Wells for the first of two crucial stands.

Wells had a let off on 32 when Daryl Mitchell spilled the chance at second slip off John Hastings with the total on 71. It proved to be a costly miss as the fourth wicket pair flourished. Wells, who had scored 155 in the game between the counties at Hove this season, looked set for another hundred as he cashed in on his moment of good fortune. But on 85 the left hander went for an expansive drive in Rhodes first over and this time Mitchell clung onto the chance.

Nash was then accompanied by Jordan in further cementing Sussex's recovery. Worcestershire claimed the second new ball and Mitchell spilled what could have been another costly chance offered by Nash on 118 off Tongue. But his fine knock ended in the next over as he was trapped lbw by Leach without addition to his score. Nash batted in total for 202 balls and struck 16 fours.

Jordan (57 not out) went to his half century off 98 balls but there was time for the persevering Barnard to claim his third wicket as David Wiese (22) gave Cox his fourth catch.